Endings and Beginnings IV // An Advent Perspective



"The night is far spent. The day is at hand." -Madeleine L'Engle, The Irrational Season

I love new beginnings so much that I'm currently aching for a button that will fast forward time to January 1st, that magical day when reading list are reset, goals re-evaluated ( and the resolve to meet them renewed) and the blank, empty calendar stretches in front of me full of possibility and excitement. I'm the same way with any new project or milestone... or even journals. I have a new notebook on standby when I get towards the end of an old one, but by that point I just want to be in  the new journal already, the old having lost its crispness in the long months of use.
As it is, I'm in this weird holding pattern that the last month of the year brings, Where I don't feel like I can start anything new yet -- reading lists, major library projects, big goals -- but I've just about finished everything else.

 And so I wait.

This time of year, it has been my habit to write on the same theme each year, as a sort of blog birthday ritual. When I began this blog, I had been closing down an old blog and starting afresh. It was also the end of a semester, and I was riding the high of post finals freedom. I wrote about endings and beginnings, and for two years after, reprised the theme, as every year I found myself at the end of one thing and the beginning of another. Then came last year - the first year I wouldn't be moving onto something new. I didn't write, because I didn't know how to write on a theme that didn't find myself living. Sometimes that that happens, and words simply fail.

Yet, as I saw December approaching this year, I knew I needed to pick up where I left off. Sometimes a thought grabs you and will not let you go even 5 years down the road. I'm still not going anywhere, and I've been struggling with viewing my daily work with fresh eyes, getting bogged down in discontent weekly as I see a path stretched out in front of me with no visible end in sight.
"No Endings or Beginnings for you!" it taunts.
So I've sought to find them elsewhere, even fabricating them as I set mini goals for myself.

As I was thinking towards how I'd mark the endings and beginnings of this year, Advent presented itself to me quite plainly. So plainly that I wondered how it didn't come to mind before. I've long loved marking time by the liturgical calendar, and the season of Advent in particular holds particular wonder for me.

At Advent, the Church year begins its cycle again, and we prepare to begin living the story of Jesus from the beginning, etching it deeper on our hearts with each passing year. But then, just as soon as its begun, the brakes are put on, and we are told to wait. In four weeks - four short weeks as compared to the hundreds of years Israel waited - we relive the waiting. The waiting of the Patriarchs, the Prophets,  John the Baptist, and sweet Mary are all remembered as we light a candle each week. And as they waited for great lengths in preparation for the coming of God-in-flesh, so we practice our own preparation for his return. We still our hearts in the winter's darkness, when the world is cold and dead around, and we wait.

We await the end of time, the end of the world as we know it, but we do not wait in dread, or fear, as one might think. With our eyes fixed on the manger, being drawn to the cross, we wait in hope and expectation as we sing "Come thou long expected Jesus, born to set thy people free." We await the light that will break through the darkness at last, and by Christmas day our candles and homes and trees will all reflect that, as everything glows with warm, wondrous light.

In the beautiful sort of paradox that only God can devise, we are beginning, ending and in the middle all at once in this season.
And so I find comfort for my days.

Come Lord Jesus.
Amen and Amen.

year one
year two
year three

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