There’s a loveliness to be found even amidst the hard-sell harriedness of the holiday push. It might be in a light early winter snowfall. It might be in a carol piped above mall shoppers that you hear in a new way. It might be in a smell of baking, or a child’s eager question. It could be in the sanctuary, watching a candle take flame and singing O Come, O Come… or in ancient words that promise the coming of peace in the One we call Our Peace.
Heaven knows we need such moments in times like these.
But if our efforts are directed only toward wrapping ourselves in loveliness, we will have missed our Advent calling. The prophets’ messages of this season direct us toward the coming again of One who was born in a dark stable in an occupied town… and as of this writing, this same land of his birth is exploding with rockets and wails of mourning. He came to a humble family and would grow to associate with folks on the margins of his society… and if we look through Christ-focused eyes we see how the real needs of such persons in our land are unmet, even trampled.
Advent’s hope is heralded through the rough voice of the Baptist, challenging us to prepare the way and to bear fruits worthy of repentance. This we can only do by first looking deep inside, and then deeply at the world around us, and allowing a restlessness to surface. A restlessness with ourselves, and with the conditions of our world that call into question our true readiness for a holy birth among us.
And then we must do something, or some things, even in small ways, to channel this restlessness into actions that help prepare the way – in our hearts, our families, our world.
I recently ran across this prayerful poem by Dom Helder Camara:
Take away the quietness
of a clear conscience,
Press us uncomfortably.
For only thus
that other peace is made,
May loveliness, and restlessness, be ours this Advent season.