Advent from, “ad-venire” in Latin or “to come to.”
The beginning of our Liturgical year, a time of preparation for the coming of God into humanity, one focusing on the virtues of hope, peace, joy and love. For years as we got to the Third Sunday, and all that week held for us our boss, a Priest, would loudly exclaim “Gaudete! Gaudete!” around the office. In one sense we felt a little buried with the preparation for the work that would come in the days before the Advent of our God, and yet woven through this Preparation is a sense of Gaudete, joy. The joy was not only in the work, but in being with people during a time of year that is difficult in the experience of loss of family and the accompanying loneliness. In those weeks the externals, the lights, the trees, the food, the prayer service, the Live Nativity, were important and more importantly that we practiced well. My own sense of loss is heightened now, during this time of year. Not so much for the loss of the busyness of the doing of the work, but the loss of entering into Advent deeply, and more importantly the people we were permitted to work with. Doing the behind the scenes work meant that I never saw the Live Nativity, and I missed prayer services, but the people, the people were always there. This Season of Preparation, waiting, was lived day by day, breathed easily.
Now it takes more effort. The more difficult Advent’s included the deaths of family members, first my mother-in-love, and few years later her brother our beloved uncle, in between is my dad’s birthday. He passed away a couple of years before my mother-in-love. It is a holy thing to be with a person in the moments leading up to their final breaths. Advent holds the deepest reminders of preparation for living now, and preparing for the life to come. It points to the radical Hope we are asked to hold to, is at its core the desire for and expectation of God, Father, Son & Holy Spirit. Hope requires a sitting up, paying attention, looking forward and walking toward. Sitting and walking yeah I get it but you know what I mean, it is the action of actively participating in the Life of God, even when we fall, because we will, even when thing seem bleak, because they will, even when there seems to be a part of the path that makes zero sense, because sometimes it just doesn’t make sense.
I just started re-reading Little Sins Mean a Lot: Kicking our bad Habits Before they Kick us by Elizabeth Scalia in preparation for the parish Book Study that beings in February. Preparing for what’s coming next, full of reminders of living an examined life, and by the authors own admission how challenging this is and yet it is a practice of the virtue of Hope that helps us, and the other theological virtues but this week focuses us in on Hope, which helps us focus on being prepared to receive Jesus as He is, rather than how I think I want him to be. As a pokey writer and doer of things the first chapter, Procrastination, always gets me as I can see how practicing procrastination leads me to sloth/acedia. It is not something I care to admit however it is a reality and one that is challenging. Like Elizabeth once I dig into the work there is often something wildly good about the doing, the writing, the quilting the whatever. I have prep work for a quilt show in January that I’ve procrastinated on long enough, it got done in less than an hour yesterday and I have one more component to figure out later today. It’s prep work that procrastinating will do me, or anyone else no good.
Right now I need to go prep for my day.
Welcome to the First Week of Advent. Let’s live in Hope.