Tuesday, November 29, 2011

quiet and advent.

"In a way, winter is the real spring, the time when the inner things happen, the resurgence of nature."
- Edna O'Brien

I love this time of year. 

Fall is my favorite, but each season brings with it something unique, something beautiful. It comes at just the right time and in all the right ways, and the impending winter is no exception. 

The words are coming slowly to me these days, replaced with thoughts of fun holiday crafts and lazy days spent on the couch. I am thinking about 2012 and what I want those days to hold, trying to decide what I did well in 2011 and what I could do better. I am reflecting and pondering, and I like that, in the middle of this season, I am reminded that Mary took the time to reflect and ponder too. 

I have mentioned before that the season of advent is not one traditionally recognized by my particular church. Instead, Jordan and I have created our own hodgepodge of rituals, attending a lessons and carols service here, opening up the daily hours there. 

This year, though, I came across this post by Edie. I spent some time listening to the podcasts, dusting off my copy of The Book of Common Prayer, and it hit me just how special, how relevant, how crucial, this season is for so many people. 

Jordan and I may never fully grasp the mysteries of the church calendar or the blessings of advent. But I am willing to give it a shot, perhaps because in these weeks, I have found myself waiting, expectant. I am longing for a change to take place in my heart, am praying that I might find, buried somewhere beneath the broken surface, a closer bond with the Father, a sense of peace and quiet that I have long been missing.

This season, I am hopeful. The days are short, and as a result, the tasks are few. I am trying to focus on the quiet, to let it heal my soul. I think I let the noises get too loud, and everything of importance has been harder to hear.

Because I am and will always be the girl that plans and purposes, my thoughts are already drifting toward January. I am trying, though, to keep those thoughts in the distance, to instead relish these final weeks of the year that is quickly passing me by. I hope that in this season, as one calendar ends and another, more mysterious calendar begins, I can embrace all that has been taking place in my heart this year. That like Mary, at the end of this season, I will have something to show for the quiet ponderings occurring beneath the surface.


Tell me: What do you do to engage in this season of advent?


Kari said...

Our church does Advent in the traditional way - the wreath and only Advent songs until Christmas Eve. Mike and I always do an Advent reading. Our favorite is The Christmas Mystery, but we don't do it every year because it is kind of long and also we don't want to wear it out. This year we are doing some super-short readings by Nouwen. (Super-short is good this year.)

It is particularly helpful for me to read or watch or listen to something similar to a mystery play, that shows the faithfulness of God throughout history. Andrew Peterson's Behold the Lamb of God is good for this, and a local theater has had a mystery play for the past few years that is awesome. I have worked on writing one for us to use with Atticus in the future, but haven't finished it. I think people use the Jesse Tree in that same way, but it is not really my style for some reason.

We don't do the Advent wreath at home, but when Atticus is older, we do have an Advent calendar we would like to use with him. I admire people who don't put up the tree or do actual Christmas songs until Christmas Eve, but that's just not our style.

Mike worked retail before, so we mostly try to focus on having quiet family time - church concerts, luminaries, making things special.

Jules said...

We do the advent wreath at home. The boys love it. It's a wonderful tradition! We already missed the first day, though, because Nicholas was so sick that I completely forgot to get everything out. I need to do that today now that he is feeling better.

Brittany said...

There really is something to be said about the quietness of winter--I've never really felt it until this year though (probably because I was busy complaining about the snow).

My family is like yours, we have created our own traditions that encompass our faith and the brightness of the season. It's mostly nice to focus on God, His Son, and family. I love this time of year.

Jennifer said...

We've never done advent, but I think it would be a really neat thing to start!

Kelly Sauer said...

If you have not read L'Engle's "The Irrational Season" for Advent - you MUST. Also, her "Bright Evening Star" about the mystery of the Incarnation.

The way she thinks about God has changed my whole perspective. She just shares, and her thoughts quiet me. I have been working my way through an extended advent, reading both of these books over the last two years - it just... I am learning to be quiet, to be, to let Him be with me.