Friday, December 17, 2010

The Advent of Our Lives

In the Christian tradition, we are about to enter the 4th and final week of Advent this coming Sunday.

The week of Advent 4 marks a week of hope filled anticipation before the day of the birth of our Saviour, Jesus the Christ.

For those of us who are Christian, this is a very important Season.

For those of us who are not, this is also a very important Season.

It is by no coincidence that all faiths are called together at this time of year to celebrate God.

The 4 weeks of Advent lead us not only to Christmas Day, but to the Season of Christmas, which continues past Christmas Day to Epiphany, which is 2 weeks later at 06 January.

Christmas begins on Christmas Day and lasts the Season.

Advent (from the Latin word adventus meaning "coming") is a Season of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity at the birth of Jesus at Christmas Day.

In the Latin, "adventus" is the translation of the Greek word "parousia", commonly used in reference to the Second Coming of Christ.

For Christians, the Season of Advent serves a reminder both of the original waiting that was held by the Hebrews for the birth of their Messiah as well as the waiting of Christians for Christ's return.

Unity in kind.

This is also a time at which, as Jesus would have it, we look to the heavens toward our Heavenly Father.

We see and we learn of the real coalition in our varied comprehension of our individual faiths, knowing that God will have us all as one.

However, that is probably enough ecclesiastical chat for now ... or not.

So, Advent is a time of waiting, expectation, preparation, anticipation, meditation, wonder ... and hope.

I believe that we have gone through most of these this past year, if not all, and we are now in a season of having nothing left than hope.

Not a bad thing.

Hope is a form of prayer, and prayer is something that is too often reserved as a last resort.

How sad, given the gifts of life and the wonders of this planet.

I mean, really?

God, who gives us manatees, giraffes, dolphins, and elephants to look at when we feel sad, is an awesome God in my book!

Anyway, back to Advent.

I would say that life is more about the time spent waiting for something to happen than it is about something actually happening.


A dear friend of mine is about to take one of her grandchildren to see Mary Poppins on Broadway. It's a magical performance, and she hoped to allow for at least six weeks of anticipation.


The timing didn't work out, so the anticipation will be abbreviated, but my friend knows that her grandchild will be thrilled none the less.


They will be seated in the theatre soon after New Year's Day, so the anticipation will be short lived.

Isn't that just the way our lives are these days?

However, I believe that the anticipation will manifest itself in the magical way that it does, and in the words of another dear friend, they will have "an experience to mine forever".

There's a quote that I learned as a child; "'Tis often better to to travel in anticipation than to arrive."

Essentially, what this means is that the big events in our lives are preceded by many days and nights of dreaming, planning, wishing, waiting, trusting, hoping, and praying.


The times of anticipation in between the big events of our lives actually constitute the majority of our lives.

These in-between times are anything but uneventful.

In fact, they are rich with possibilities and ripe with opportunities for reflection and preparation.

Now that's a gift!

Like an expectant woman awaiting the birth of her child, we have a finite period of time in which to prepare internally and externally for the upcoming event that will define a new chapter in our lives.

Such is the Advent of Christmas.

So, we can apply the gift of Advent and anticipation to whatever situation might lay in wait ahead of us, be this a beneficial event or one of concern.

We might anticipate a great event, or we may be fearful of the result of our own wrongdoings.

Either way, we graciously accept our time of wait and anticipation.

Once again, "This too shall pass" ... for better or for worse.

When we find ourselves at an in-between time, we often can't help but become impatient for the impending event.

After all, we were born as children, we live our private lives as children, we die as children, and we return to eternal life as children.

So impatience is, perhaps, our own little birth right

All too often, we just want to get to the future and have the new baby, the new job, the new house, the bigger car, the new promotion, the busier life, the new challenges, the trials, the tribulations, the realities, the struggles, the hardships, the consequences ...

How often do we wish for an event to happen?

We wish that we will become old enough to drive, we wish to graduate college, we wish to achieve that job.

We wish to marry, we wish for children (who will too soon graduate), we wish for that promotion.

We wish for the traffic to flow and for the line at the supermarket to move more quickly so we can hurry home. Why are there so many cars ahead at the ATM?

We wish for seasons to change, we wish for holidays to be done with, we wish for relatives to go home, we wish for time to be alone.

We wish for time to slow down or to return to the days of our youth.

We wish for restoration and a sensible recollection of our days and times.

We wish for a peaceful rest and a recollection of our middle years.

We wish we could recall the conversations with our relatives.

We wish we had someone to share a meal with.

We wish we were back in 1st Grade wishing for the 3:00 Bell to ring.

Ultimately, we wish we didn't wish our lives away.

Do we ever wish for what exists ahead in our faith?

There is a reason a pregnancy takes nine months to fulfill itself.

Nature provides the expectant parents with this time so that they can prepare the nest.

This preparation plays out on many levels.

Materially, a space must be created in the home and resources must be set aside for the child's future.

Psychologically, a shift must occur in which the psyches of both parents agree to be responsible for the commitment of a new life in the world.

Emotionally, the heart must open wider to embrace and fulfill a new and unconditional love complete with care, concern, worry, and an eternal co-existence that none other than a parent could ever understand.

If one ever seeks to experience God's earthly love, I would suggest experiencing the love between Mother and child.

Parents have a wonderful manner of patiently waiting as we grow; albeit often impatiently!

Whenever we find ourselves in a time of waiting, we might prosper to spend time exploring our material, psychological, and emotional readiness.

For example, if we are preparing to move to a new city, we could make a list of things we might like to do in the city we will be leaving behind, go to our favorite places and spend time with old friends.

This way, we remain fully engaged in the present as we await our future, savoring the in-between time as a vital experience in itself.

How do we accept the material, psychological, and emotional realities of change in our lives?

How do we accept Advent, knowing that Lent awaits so soon ahead?

While many of the diverse festivals and feasts we celebrate are designed to be times for celebrating life, new beginnings, traditions, and landmark occasions, those sentiments can be swept away by the stress of overloaded to-do lists and seemingly never-ending holiday obligations.

Yet there are many unique and satisfying ways to celebrate the holidays without spending too much money or becoming exhausted in the process.

Of course the media, and possibly even loved ones, may encourage us to do and buy more. However, concentrating on the spirit of faith, giving, love, and hope during these holy days may help us do more with less.

We can create, or recreate, holiday traditions that help us focus on what we find important.

Christmas, and its surrounding holidays, can be a wonderful time for taking stock of what matters most to us.

This can include family, community, helping those less fortunate, and loving the earth as well as ourselves. These are trying and troubling times, and we do need to love ourselves.

When we feel driven to give tangible gifts to the people in our lives, perhaps we can consider gifts that encourage positive living or gifts whose impact will continue to be felt long after the holidays.

We can consider donating our effort to making someone else's life better by hosting a party for seniors or volunteering at a homeless shelter.

We can also make a charitable donation or plant a seedling tree in a loved one's name.

Instead of giving our friends and family material goods, we can choose to give them the gift of our time.

We can teach our younger generation to value time and life, to spend time listening to the elders of the family and to try to return to a more simple, slower paced, greatly appreciated life.

We can do this for ourselves as well.

We can organize get-togethers that include relatives or acquaintances whom we seldom see and emphasize togetherness, fun, and celebration.

Time spent making homemade gifts offer us the opportunity to ruminate on what we treasure about our loved ones.

Such gifts are also unto ourselves.

When exploring the true meaning of Christmas and its surrounding holidays, we are offered the spiritual gift of getting back to the true spirit of the season, allowing ourselves to alter existing traditions and experience life and tradition in new and fascinating ways.

A simple blessing over our food before a meal, giving thanks to the earth, it's farmers, and those who prepare the gifts we are given, or even a walk under the moon and stars after a shared meal helps to connect us to the chain and the flow which is our gift here upon this planet and in our life.

What a gift!

When we celebrate what fulfills us and then stop before our celebration becomes more of a hassle than a happy occasion, we return to the basics of generosity and good will, and our holidays will always be rewarding.

Wishing you the wonder-filled Season of Faith, Hope, Trust and Anticipation with all the blessings of this miraculous Season, along with my love & light.




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