Monday, November 28, 2011

I just figured it out.

Advent means several things. Preparation, repentance, counting down, shopping for Christmas. My favorite definition is, 'To Wait.'

"Time makes you bolder, children get older...and I'm getting older too." Stevie Nicks

Heading towards fifty, I'm realizing that lines on my face, symbolize trenches digging deep in experience and growth in spirit. The older I get, the less I like the commercialism of Christmas.

Like Andrew Wyeth's love of fall and winter, rather than spring and summer, I'm recognizing a bare bones beauty in the skeletel elements of nature, and likewise, personal seasons that seem uncluttered, unflowered.
Traditionally, we put our tree up later than most people. This year, I wanted it up Thanksgiving weekend because I thought the college boys home on break would enjoy it. Alas, the time went too fast, and the basement got a good cleaning instead by Scott. He needed rent money.

The first Sunday of Advent, Paul and I spent at Mass at a small church in Hayesville. It was so intimate, so appropo for the season. In front of the altar was placed a small pine tree with huge pine cones and a birch bark-like trunk as the planter. I was taken with the fresh green needles. It needed no lights, no sparkle. It was fine the way it was.

Trees are shed of their leaves, to let in as much heat and light as possible. Weather forecasts are dropping in temperature, as we add layers to warm our bodies. Soups are brewing, fires are lighting, and Christmas carols are playing.
Its in the music that I recognize an epiphany. I'm drawn to Mary, great with child, great with wonder in her experience as God's chosen vessel. I find a parallel in my own journey as a Mom. I've often pondered how special it is to become a mother, for the first and consecutive times. It is a longing and a familiarity that makes me adore the Christ child and love his mother.

I posted a song called, Agnus Dei, sung by Amy Grant. When I find a song, it gets played, over and over. The first few times, I wept with longing, yet joy. I thought of my son, Scott who just returned to Nashville for a couple weeks before Christmas break. The lilting reverence of the music, made me miss him. Simultaneously, I worshipped Jesus, deep and intimate (there is that word again.)
I played another song, that purposely, I save for Advent. It's called, 'Sing, Mary, Sing' by Jennifer Knapp. I felt a kindred spirit with Our Lady. There is a sweetness there that if skipped, the birthday would not contain the same punch, the same glory.

I figured it out. It's all connected.  The preparation and waiting is the private part, similar to pregnancy. Christmas Day is the celebration, the shared glorious event. I love both.


  1. We love Advent here, too. It is so lovely when you have little children to have something beautiful to fill the month of December with, instead of the 40 days of Christmas our culture seems to observe. By the time Christmas actually arrives it can seem a bit anticlimatic if you've been keeping Christmas since Thanksgiving or before.

    Do you have any more songs appropriate for Advent to share? I'd like to get in the spirit musically, but we hold out on listening to Christmas carols until later in the month.

    Sarah (your cousin:)

  2. Hi Sarah,
    So nice of you to leave a comment. I agree, if we're breaking out the tinsel too soon, we do tire of the hoopla. I know people who take their tree down, Dec. 26th!
    Breath of Heaven, is another good song, also sung well by Amy Grant. Oh Come Oh Come Emmanuel is pretty traditional and evokes the real deal of Advent. I like identifying with Mary. She had quite a plight and her suffering (with purpose) was only beginning.
    Love and Peace back to you, Susan (cuz)

  3. Hi Susan,

    I love Advent, no hurrying for me. A time of waiting, like you said. Expecting. Hoping. Anticipating. Longing with excitement. I love every shopping trip out, choosing to bless each cashier, hoping that they have polite shoppers. It feels like my body(and mine and spirit) actually slips into a slower gear, on purpose, so I can enjoy all the experiences of the celebration.

    This year, I am meditating on one characteristic of God each day of Advent. I've never done this before, but it is a sweet time.

    I don't think as much about Mary as you do, but at this time of year, I actually do. I love the song, 'Mary, did you know?" And, the scripture I think of so often, as a mother, Luke 2:19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.