Sunday, November 30, 2014

First Sunday in Advent: My Poverty

I have joined Angela and others in a Pause in Advent. Check out Angela's site for a list of other bloggers participating in this annual event.

"Advent isn’t a holiday party. It doesn’t pressure us to conjure up a hopeful face, ring bells, and dismiss the foulest realities we face. Advent isn’t about our best world, it’s about our worst world."
                      --Christina Cleveland (for her full post on Advent, go here)

Last year, I didn't start writing about my poverty until the third week in Advent. This year I have a cold, so I'm going to write about my poverty right off the bat.

First, I should say that as colds go, this isn't a bad one, just a very congestive one. Still, I'm missing church on the first Sunday in Advent, and that's a bummer. I was looking forward to going to the all-congregation "Let's Get Ready for Advent" meeting at 9:45 and to the service afterward. Instead, I'm sitting on my couch with a box of Kleenex and a cup of peppermint tea, blowing my nose every three minutes.

And I'm sort of laughing at myself, too. A couple of weeks ago I was thinking that maybe this year would be different. I'm more organized this year. I've already baked eight dozen Christmas cookies and popped them in the deep freeze. I've already come up with a satisfying list of presents for the boys and sent it to the Man, who will do the ordering and shopping. So maybe, just maybe, I'd end up enjoying Advent this year, really get into it.

This year, I'd be all about the light.

And then I got this cold--it showed up Thursday night, interrupting my plans for a productive weekend of sewing, cleaning and yardwork--and thought, nope, nothing's changed. I get a cold or some kind of bug every Thanksgiving. I thought this year might be different because I'm much more diligent about washing my hands whenever I come home from the library or shopping, and besides, I had a bug in October. Shouldn't I get a pass until the new year?

Nope. No pass. And I suspect that whatever I do, however organized I am, the next few weeks leading up to Christmas will be a slog. Maybe I'm wrong. But it doesn't pay to get optimistic this time of year, not for me at least.

So you can imagine that I found the quote above helpful. Advent is a time when we watch for the light--but the light isn't here yet. It's a dark time of year. It's easy to lose hope. This has been a dark autumn for a lot of people I know--unexpected, terrible deaths, cancer, broken relationships. The fact is, it's a dark world.

In her post on Advent, Christina Cleveland goes on to write, 

"So, this Advent season, let’s engage and lament darkness as we seek the Light. In doing so, we participate in the ancient longing of the coming Messiah, a longing that began when the earth was still formless and empty, persevered in the hearts of Anna and Simeon, and continues today."

Having a cold isn't a big deal, but it's been a useful reminder that when we put our energy into making a perfect weekend, holiday, Christmas season--a perfect anything--our energy is misdirected. The darkness is too big. Advent is a time to remember just how dark things are and little we can do to change that. We don't have it in us. 

But the Light does.


Angela said...

My daughter once said that one of her favourite verses is "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not put it out" - she is SO right. Our best-laid plans go awry, but the purposes of the True Light will never be extinguished. xx Advent blessings, get well soon!

GretchenJoanna said...

I also missed church today because of a cold. At the moment I can't imagine/remember how it feels to have the energy for the work I need to do - to make Christmas the way I like. But you're right, it's about waiting for the Light, and I'm certainly in the mood for that. O come, O come, Emmanuel!

Tracy said...

I'm sorry you're unwell again. It seems a tad unfair to have two so close together!

I suspect the preparation for Christmas is going to be diabolical for me this year. We will be interstate until the 21st of December. I don't get paid again until after we're away, so planning around that is just impossible. I think we're going to need to have some major discussions in our house about how we do this. It's one of the benefits of having children old enough to process these things and be mature about it all. I hope.

I am currently thinking denial is my best friend.

Kezzie said...

Ah, your conclusion- SO true!!! I love it!!! x

Nancy McCarroll said...

Glad to see that Angela is carrying the torch for Advent.

Hope your cold is winding down and the heating pad can go back to its rightful place, hidden in a cover.

Love that you are getting all over Light this season.

Gary said...

We can do nothing in our own strength. We need Him.

magsmcc said...

And while we say that the Light is coming, we do that symbolically because the Light is here. It's our darkness that persists, but everyday we can find the Light. Bask in it. Sniffle in it. Cry in it.

Gumbo Lily said...

You are right... Our poor selves need the light and the love that comes from our Emmanuel. I hope you'll be getting well soon.

Pom Pom said...

I love the way you say things, Frances. I'm sorry I missed the first pause!