Today marks the first day of Advent and a new cycle of the liturgical year in the Church. Since I’ve just released my Sacred Seasons liturgical wall calendar (take a peek at the Advent page above), I thought this would be a great opportunity to share with you an excerpt from the calendar on the season of Advent. Blessings to you as you enter this season of waiting and longing, keeping vigil as hope draws near.
In the Northern Hemisphere, the season of Advent comes at a time when the earth is dark and dormant.
The last leaves are falling from autumn’s colorful trees as the days grow colder and the nights grow longer, readying the earth and its creatures for a season of stillness and hibernation. This growing darkness pulls us inside our homes as well as inside ourselves, inviting us to examine our places of darkness and longing and to wait with faithfulness, keeping vigil as we hold out hope for the light.
This is where the Church calendar begins—not with the certainty and fulfillment sung by the angels at Christmas time, but rather with the strain that such deep yearning brings. Like Mary pregnant with the Christ child, we start the year not with the joy and relief that comes with birth but in the womb—the mysterious place in which hope is conceived and new life is formed.
During this season, we read through the prophecies and heralds of the coming of Christ and God’s kingdom as well as the story of the visit of the angel Gabriel foretelling the birth of Jesus to the Virgin Mary. As we listen, we, too, are invited to ponder what the Sacred is conceiving within us and how we might also serve as vessels for the Divine and hosts of the incarnation. In this season of becoming, we are invited to listen deeply, attuning ourselves to the places where the Spirit is stirring in the midst of deep silence and stillness, waiting with patience and faith for the labor pains to begin and for new life to emerge.
Our wait is not an idle one, for we know the hope of what is to come. And so our season of expectancy is also a season of preparation as we make way for celebration in our homes and in our hearts, including the weekly lighting of the Advent wreath candles, representing love, hope, joy, and peace. In the midst of our preparations, however, the truth remains: the time for celebration has not yet come, and to act as if it has would be premature—a disruption to the season of incubation that is essential for each meaningful journey.
Instead, in its very first season of the year, the Church invites us to remain present with the tension within as we sing “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” with its minor chords and mysterious tones, calling forth with longing and faith the new life which will soon be ours to hold.
What is the Sacred conceiving in you in this season? What’s stirring within you?