advent I

November 30, 2010

As autumn gives way to winter, and this week marks the beginning of Advent, I have found myself grappling with the definition of family and identity. It is good to stop, be quiet, let the cold bring life, and to remember what it means to wait for something good. I am beginning to invent new traditions and repurpose old ones this Advent, looking to both the distant memory of the ancient Christmas story, as well as the expectation that comes with the mystery of hope. And, I am making family out of whatever I have.

I have a home with a front porch, hard wood floors, and morning light. I have a kitchen with an oven, and flour, sugar, and butter. I have good people around me. I have a job and the warmth of it’s festive walls. I have a beating heart, and a sense of purpose.

It is with these things in my hands, I move toward the season with more quiet expectation than I have in along time. There is not the same grid this year. Everything seems new, and it is with these hands that I have to work to build new family, new tradition. The three foot cedar was cut down from outside of town. Twinkle lights everywhere. Iowa pine candle burning. Leftover pie for lunch. Hot tea. Sufjan Stevens Christmas albums. Haphazardly sewing stockings for each member of the household. It is in these small things, in these rhythms, that I begin to redefine and find meaning.

Peace, noel.

Pope Benedict XVI writes:

“Advent is concerned with that very connection between memory and hope which is so necessary to man. Advent’s intention is to awaken the most profound and basic emotional memory within us, namely, the memory of the God who became a child. This is a healing memory; it brings hope. The purpose of the Church’s year is continually rehearse her great history of memories, to awaken the heart’s memory so that it can discern the star of hope….

It is the beautiful task of Advent to awaken in all of us memories if goodness and thus to open doors of hope.”

My prayer is that this Advent season, full of new and old, awakens memories of goodness, and transforms all that is lost into something of hope.

O Come O Come Emmanuel.


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