Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A Personal Advent

For most of the western world the Christmas season is in full swing.  Decorations, music and ads have been appearing since Halloween and the frenzy of holiday shopping was encouraged by Black Friday, Small-Store Saturday, Cyber Monday and even Giving Tuesday, of all things.  Many folks lament this commercialization, as do I, and I try not to be a part of it. 

Many years ago, full of loneliness and confusion after a divorce, I was headed home across north Texas on Christmas Eve.  The radio was playing- there were precious few stations to choose from- and of all things I heard the hymn O Come, O Come Emmanuel for the first time.  At that moment I fell head-over-heels in love with Advent.

Growing up as a Southern Baptist I’d never even heard the term Advent, much less observed it as a holy season.  There was nary a single Advent hymn in our hymnal at that time and the church Christmas tree and poinsettias went up the Sunday after Thanksgiving.  This idea of waiting, of expectation and hope, filled a need in my soul, and still does.  Now a church musician and an Episcopalian, Advent has become my favorite sacred season.  No church decorations or Christmas carols until after the fourth Sunday of Advent for us, just the way I like it.  And twenty-four Advent hymns, yes, that’s correct, twenty-four.

I am feeling this season more profoundly than ever this year because I believe that I am in the midst of a personal Advent, one that will likely last for months or even a few years.  As I approach my 60th birthday, as my church continues to struggle, as my new grandson grows and changes daily, and as my husband enters a new stage, we must decide where we want to make our life.  Do we stay in Maine, which has become our comfortable home, or do we move closer to family, to share our lives with theirs more fully? It is a decision which should not be forced and which I am confidant will be revealed, in due season.  In the meantime, we wait.

O come, thou Wisdom from on high,
who orderest all things mightily;
to us the path of knowledge show,
and teach us in her ways to go.

                                      Latin, ca. 9th century

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