Did you watch it? As the end of the year approaches, many of us feel the same urgency that White Rabbit expressed in this scene from Alice in Wonderland. I know because you’re driving on the same streets as me. You’re behind me in the checkout line. I read your posts on social media and see you interacting with your children. I know because it’s me, too.
The cultural year that operates globally per the Julian calendar facilitates a sense of pressurization with its progression of numbers…Jan 1 to Dec 22, 23, 24… Two thousand thirteen…fourteen…fifteen…gone. The days pile up like vacation time not spent, thus they vanish. Anxiety mounts. We must find a way to fit it all in AND WE’RE LATE! We race to get those last dollars donated, that last goal crossed off–or revised. Others just hope to make it to the finish line intact.
The liturgical year, or Christian year, is much kinder, reminding us there is no gold star for finishing first, accomplishing most or performing best. Rather, it is an invitation to journey through Christ’s lived experience on the planet, beginning with his Divine Invasion, commonly referred to as the Incarnation (I know…sounds a little “Star Wars-ish…), and as we go, opening to the slow work of God within as we consider what living like that could mean for us and our lived experience. Here. Now. To find our “eyes opened just a little,” as Ignatius says, discovering God-with-us in real time.
The new church year, Year C, began on Nov. 29, 2015, with the first of the four Sundays of Advent, or coming. Advent works sort of like this: You call out to someone, “Please come here,” only to have them say, “I’m coming.” What this really means is, “I’m sorta thinking about getting ready to be in the process of actually stopping what I’m doing and considering moving from where I am to where I think you might possibly be suggesting I eventually be…yes, I’m coming.”
Advent is God coming and us waiting: longing, preparing, anticipating–like in the checkout line and on the streets and with a world that doesn’t move at our same pace. There’s just that one little line “…in the fullness of time...”
Advent is practice in “slowing our roll” even while participating in the cultural craziness in which we are joyfully–mostly!– immersed in this season. Like children–usually–wait to open mysteriously-wrapped gifts under the tree, we know that our wait is worth every agonizing second.
And about the qualifiers…I’m trying to avoid romanticizing. I was a church music director and a mother, after all. So can we be honest? It’s not all silver bells and white velvet angels, is it?! Two of my grandkids actually made it to Dec. 9th and 15th before the dog ate their remaining Advent countdown candy–one piece per family member/friend on whom to focus our thoughts and prayers each day.
Truth is, waiting is hard. But Advent helps us to wait well and with good reason. And then celebrate well–for 12 days of Christmas!
So here I am, already started on the new liturgical year, reflective, unhurried, waiting…even as the cultural year ramps up to its last big hurrah, demanding more energy, time and attention. I will gladly give it, out of the spaciousness of a heart that is open to receive God in it all. Join me? Unlike White Rabbit, you don’t have to worry about being late for the start of this year. The party is in session year ’round. You can jump in wherever you are.
My prayer is that every heart prepare him room so that heaven and nature can truly sing.
One of the best companions I’ve found is this little gem gifted to me by my brother-in-law a while back…okay, like in ’05 or ’06. Guide to Prayer for Ministers and Other Servants. I’ve gifted dozens to others since. I hope you’ll check it out, and stick around. I’ll be talking more about it–and other great resources–in the new year.
Stuff I have to say HERE.