Advent 2016

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This feels like the “after all is said and done” day at the end of a month that … I don’t even know what to say about it. You may have noticed that I haven’t been writing. There are so many words out there already. I feel like everything that could be said has been said. My friend Jane Bishop Halteman has collected some of the wisest words in her recent blog post, Joining the Struggle for Love, Truth and Justice.

There is that, and there is also the fact that all through November I have focused on the doing rather than the saying. I’ve been to Africa and back, launching a new project. Sometime soon I will write about that but it is not quite the time. I am very excited about it.

I hosted Thanksgiving for our family and our daughter-in-law’s family, a celebration linking all the aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents of the new baby who was one month old on Thanksgiving Day. It was one grand, laid-back party stretching over four days with lots of baby-holding and crowd-feeding and some football-watching. Never before have the Thanksgiving leftovers disappeared so quickly. I came up with a few new recipes that will become traditions.

After all this, Advent snuck up on me. It was Sunday morning and the party had wound down to the baby-family and my husband and me. New mom had wanted to go to church but was catching up on sleep. New dad was wearing the baby in the Moby when I came downstairs after sleeping rather late myself, since the two older grandchildren were not around to rouse us at the crack of dawn. All was calm, all was bright. I relished the quiet of the nearly empty house, the nearly clean kitchen, morning coffee by the fire, another round of baby-holding. No reason to move out of this sacred space.

It occurred to me that Advent this year could be exactly this: after the tsunami of November events (beginning, let us remember, with the Cubs miraculously winning the World Series), a pause. For me, Advent will be a deliberate space-clearing, perhaps more Lenten than celebratory. I need to pray, get grounded, gear up, set myself toward firm and deliberate and purposeful; prepare to receive the gift of the Incarnation. Janie has some wisdom to share on this in her post today, To What Does Advent Call Us?

As for the immediate future, what happens after January 21 (and is already happening), I plan to worry less and prepare more, to simplify Christmas planning in favor of meaningful gestures and gifts, to set my hand to the tasks that come before me, to take the necessary actions, no more and no less. Oh, and not forgetting play, love, and joy! This, too, is part of the preparation of this Advent. Thank God for the children and babies who keep our hearts open.

So much has been said, so much has happened, so much will be done. We will be ready.

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