In the Christian story, the invitation we receive on the First Sunday of Advent is to be present at a coming birth, for which we are given four weeks to prepare, time and events being symbolic, really, of each moment we choose to walk the Christian path.
I used to joyfully accept the invitation to attend the birthday celebration, and faithfully joined in the party’s annual preparation. I sang in choirs, focused myself spiritually by “cleaning house” through participation in Sacraments, readings, and reflections, and then made very merry on Christmas Day, the culmination of the Advent journey.
Etymologically, “advent” means arrival. I used to feel that on Christmas Day we’re there; the journey’s over for another year. We’ve arrived. We welcomed the child and his Light.
Some years ago, though, the meaning of Advent and Christmas began to widen and deepen and simplify for me, as things do when we grow older and accrue experiences and losses, breathe into the blurred spaces between black and white, notice time’s flight gaining velocity, and reflect perhaps more honestly on what we’ve offered our world, and what we might yet offer, given our dwindling days and gifts. No story, after all, is literal; each comes with shadows, echoes, symbols, and meaning, which can change at every reading.
Now I consider that Advent sets us before a full-length spiritual mirror. We arrive at an opportunity to stand in the Great Light and ponder whether we truly want to co-create with it or not. Christmas invites us to be crystal clear about our choices. Are we shining brighter or is our holy light growing dimmer? What is asking to be born in us that will make us radiant and more loving?
Because we are the vessels holding Love’s potential birth. The Christmas story lives within us, shining outward, or it’s just a pretty story. The Light shines through us or we obscure it.
Our commitment to be present once again to the Christmas birth is really a renewal of our vow to follow the path we’ve chosen: we can be mere witnesses to this birth, or get into it up to our elbows, midwifing its Love in every moment of our lives, shining the light it gifts us, revealing all the ways the entire world is infused with the Sacred.
This Christmas, may we forgive our cruelties and the pain others have caused in our lives; may we notice and amend injustice; may we engage in activities that respect and cherish the Earth; may we welcome all the invitations to love and be in joyful, generous relationship with all the life that surrounds us.
We’re still/always becoming, and we have choices regarding whether we’ll lean into or away from Love’s light and see the blessings inherent to being here/now, with the gifts to make that light cast its brightness ever wider, wide enough to include all creation. Happy birthday to the Light of the world!
Blessings to all, however you honor your light and the light in others. Travel safely, gather merrily; I wish you love and gentle peace.
© Copyright of all visual and written materials on The Daily Round belongs solely to Catherine M. O’Meara, 2011-Present. Unauthorized use is strictly prohibited, without the author’s written approval. No one is authorized to use Catherine O’Meara’s copyrighted material for material gain without the author’s engagement and written permission. All other visual, written, and linked materials are credited to their authors. Thank you, and gentle peace.