Wednesday, November 29, 2006
This is my third Advent.
The first one was an amazingly sacred time. A friend had unexpectedly lost her husband, so I spent the whole month sitting in my living room listening to Handel's Messiah and knitting a blue mohair prayer shawl. I lit frankincense and would watch the smoke curl towards the ceiling in the gray gloom of the afternoon. I lit fires in the fireplace and would make pots of tea and be silent and prayerful as I knit. At the time, I still worked in the bookstore doing tarot readings. I remember it was almost painful to go there. I felt torn open, sometimes. Torn away from my sacred space. I quit reading there just before the following Holy Week.
Last year was an altogether different experience. I was unceremoniously dumped in the desert. I felt cut off from my spiritual community, lonely and alone. I felt no sense of God's presence at all. Instead, it was a harried, painful, empty place. No amount of fires or incense or Messiah sings could infuse Advent with a sense of expectation. It was just the emptiness. I couldn't even pray anymore.
This year, yet again, feels different. I now have a full liturgical church year under my belt and am experiencing the approach of Advent with a sense of awe and joy. I have grown to love the rhythms of the church year, with it's ebbs and flows. Times of ripening, and harvest, and fallow emptiness. Now as I face the empty rows of my spiritual field, I know that they are at rest. That they are waiting for God's seed to be planted, fertilized, watered and tended. That they will bear fruit, soon enough. But for now, in the cold, gray afternoon, the rows of my heart are turned over. Open. Waiting.