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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Starting Advent - ex tenebris lux

This Sunday was the start of the season! Advent marks the beginning of the Church year! A time of starting over, and making ourselves new again! Happy New (church) Year!

It may come as a surprise to people who know me but I usually don't pay attention to Advent at all.

Growing up in a Catholic town it seemed that Advent was for children, and Lent was for adults. Advent was cheerful, warm and fun. Every day we opened a new door on the Advent calendar at home. Every week we lit a new candle on the wreath at school. We sang carols at church. We gave each other secret gifts.

In contrast, Lent was cold, dark and scary. The music at church was about blood and death. And although I participated in abstaining from meat, and putting money in the rice bowl instead of spending it on sweets, I dreaded Lent coming each year, and couldn't wait for it to all be over. I had no idea why the adults didn't just cancel it.

As I grew up, I began to appreciate Lent more for its spiritual benefits, but I became removed from Advent. Preparing for Christmas became stressful the way it is constantly depicted in secular culture. My Christmas ends up being wonderful and magical, but I always arrive there wondering where the hell I've been for four entire weeks. At Christmas Mass every year I am a little sorry that I skipped Advent, because I feel like I've been dropped off on Christmas instead of finding my way there.

But not this year. This year I want to recapture some of the actual anticipation and joy I felt as a kid before Dec. 25th. I want it to come from an honest place so that my energy isn't forced, and my holiday spirit isn't sicky-sweet or abrasive. I want to be able to share that energy and renewal with other people when they need it the most.
And I'm going to do it all by observing a mindful Advent.

I know a lot of my friends and family have no interest in religion, and rest assured I don't mean to force (too many)* angels and shepherds on you in the next four weeks.

But I am going to try to check in here at least once a week on how I'm doing with Advent. It's a resolution that I'm hoping will keep me on track with my other resolutions.

Advent is a journey from darkness into light. I could use some light. And if you could too, I hope you'll come with me.
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* Angels and shepherds still included, and the qualifier "too many" to be defined on an individual basis by participating bloggers while supplies last. Management is not responsible for rogue shepherds or rowdy angels.

1 comment:

TC Cheever said...

Advent calendars still available at Cardullo's in Harvard Square, with a delicious chocolate behind each window.

Just sayin'.