The season of joy is upon us. . . if only we could slow down long enough to witness its birthing. I’ve always thought it was no coincidence that the diminishing daylight in the days leading up to Christmas framed a perfect metaphor to the darkness that envelops us during this supposedly, joyous time. It’s also the time of the year when I’m reminded of how the circumstances of my life have left me adrift of my birth family, leaving me longing for the type of nostalgic childhood portrayed in our popular culture. It’s no wonder I see myself in need of a compass, very much a vagabond traveler desperate to quiet the vestiges of emotional disconnect.
But the gospels of this season also remind me that Advent is the time that God calls upon the blessing of the wretched, the disenfranchised, and the wandering. And it is within that disconnect between what we strive to become and where we are found, that we arrive at the place in which we start to perceive the echoes of a soul for which we can holdfast. The Advent season is meant not as a time of fretful anticipation, but instead, one of joyous expectation. It’s a time to immerse in, and savour the hope of becoming. This type of quiet waiting seems to be at such odds with the way we live our lives today—as we go about fashioning a life of extrinsic validation, an accelerated path of accumulation devoid of faithful meaning.
I’m discovering that all the inadequacy that the Christmas season roils up inside me is not something to be ashamed up, but rather something to unwrap and discover. When we fall with gentle surrender into those times of deep uncertainty and fear, we start to divest ourselves of that immense weight of unworthiness that binds us to an aching sadness. And within that lifting, we are bestowed with a degree of certainty of what truly matters. These moments of clarity serve to align us with our soul’s “North Star”. It brings to mind what Mark Nepo says about our collective addiction to the pervasive noise of destruction and of all things falling apart, an addiction that is very much fed by the 24-hour news cycle that permeates our lives. The key, according to Nepo, is recognizing that just as many things come together as fall apart, except, it all takes place at a much quieter level, one that often escapes our perception. I believe there is a beauty in that stillness and a divine grace in that gentle awakening.
Christmas reminds us that God meets us where we are, be that upon the matted hay of a manger, or on the frightening precipice of a new and uncertain path in life, or even in the soul-shattering silence of depression. Christmas is a time of reflection that invites each of us to consider who is worthy of witnessing the “birthing” of our purest and most radiant becoming. What would we take with us of our former life into this new beginning? Because when we are awakened to our soul, we become attuned to divine grace gradually being coaxed forth within us. The mystery of grace is that it gives us the courage and the strength to be fully present to the lives of others, as invariably, we begin to see the echoes of our own story being told in the voices and through the actions of those we fully witness around us.
And so once again, I invite you to think of this Christmas season, not as a time of commitments and of comparing, but as a time of joy, understanding, and affinity. A time to gather and distill the meaningful. A time to bring together those who bear witness to our own rebirth, ever reminding us that to will the goodness and love of another, is the greatest of all blessings we can bestow.