Already, it’s the second week of Advent.
The season began while we were on our road trip/pilgrimage. While I feel a desire to be intentional about the unfolding of Advent, it feels like so many other things filled up that first week so that I didn’t really soak in the significance of its theme.
Or did they?
The theme of the first week of Advent is Hope. As I’ve been reflecting on my experiences during our trip, I find myself using and re-using the phrase, “I didn’t think it was even possible.” And then it was.
For example, because of other trips we’ve been privileged to enjoy, I have discovered I love the ocean. Being beside a body of water so large that it meets the horizon settles something in my nervous system, gives me a sense of being held in a way that opens my heart, makes me feel welcomed, received, and enfolded in belonging. It feels like home.
March 2019 was our last visit to the ocean. In this past year, I have longed to return … and “knew” it wasn’t possible, for so many reasons.
One of those reasons was the necessity of the trip we just completed. Even as we were planning, I looked into the possibility of a few days ocean-side, and it just didn’t seem workable. We decided to visit New Orleans instead.
As we were on our way from Houston, TX, to New Orleans, the freeway turned into a parking lot. We practiced patience. We reminded ourselves we were now in “vacation mode” with no specific time deadlines. We laughed at the antics of drivers around us. Finally, traffic crawled to a point where we could leave the interstate for a lunch and bathroom break.
My Favourite Person and Designated Driver studied the map book he’d purchased with great delight just a couple of hours before. (He’s an engineer and loves a good printed map.) When we got back to our vehicle, he said, “I think we need to try an alternate route.” He asked for my assistance finding the directional signage, so I opened the treasured map book to see what our next intersection would be. That’s when I realized his intent.
“Is this road going to take us by the ocean?” I asked, hardly daring to believe it was possible.
“Could be,” he said, in his typical understated way.
It seemed incredible, impossible, unbelievable … and yet it was true.
All it took for my deep desire to be realized was his willingness to believe it could happen, and then our willingness to journey off the pre-determined path.
That’s what begins our season of preparation for the arrival of the Light. At the darkest time of the year, we dare to believe Light is possible. We don’t have to know how it will arrive, nor do we get to determine when. We just know it is possible … and then we choose to let it in when its faint glow appears.
I think of Mary’s nine months of pregnancy, the preparations she must have made for the Baby whose life-impact she could only guess at. Recalling my own preparations for the births of my children, I remember the anticipation of their arrival … and how little I knew of how they would change me, how they would enrich my life, and how their very being would become the best part of my world. How much more so for the Mother who was about to birth the Divine-with-us?
It starts with Hope—the luminous hunch that something new is possible, the gossamer sense that what Is can give birth to What Can Be, and then the willingness to be part of its arrival.