On the one hand, all the signals from our spiritual life is slowing us down. The songs we put on our lips emphasize waiting, watching, listening. The tone is simpler, more plaintive, deliberate. Even nature cooperates: bare trees, grey skies, seasons in flux – all emphasizing that something else is soon to come.
On the other hand, what surrounds this stance is nothing short of a seasonal sluice pipe: a virtual onslaught of tasks, preparations, lists, details, travel arrangements, party schedules. We approach this end-of-year tsunami with fearful respect for the intensity it brings upon our psyche.
I am always taken aback when these two realities collide. If anything, I need Advent more than ever: sunlight continues to be more precious, darkness seems to be winning the day, and the liturgical work I am facing over the next few weeks seems staggering. I watch, with consternation, the students in my choir, as they face this very same season – topped with their end-of-semester academic demands. I view, with nervousness, the endless marketing mantra that urges us toward Santa Claus (note that I do not infer the Nativity or the Incarnation in this sentence).
It is the conundrum of the Four Candles: this strange mystery of Advent, the time of waiting in the midst of forward motion, the admonition to stay put when all else seems to scream "Get it done!", the holding of my breath when I am out of breath.
I love the music of this season perhaps more than any other. Maybe because I need it now more than at any other time. Maybe because the words I sing are ones that I am not particularly good at: being still, waiting, quieting down, watching.
Maranatha. Let us wait, so that we might be joyful at the last.
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Location:Notre Dame, IN