If Christmas is a day of celebration, Advent is a season of waiting. And maybe not patient, airbrushed waiting, either! When will the light come?! When will this darkness be over? And when will the birth happen?
My friend Tony Robinson writes this: "There's a tendency in the Church, perhaps particularly in a season like Advent...to censor out raw emotions. Church becomes a place to be polite and on our best behavior or to be only upbeat and happy." And not just church. I would add holiday parties, annual Christmas cards, Facebook posts, or running into a friend around town.
What we lose in all of that is the depth, energy, and new life that can come from hibernation, from "keeping the door of the steam bath closed," as the Desert Fathers would say.
Here's a poem from Jan Richardson that came my way this week, and it makes me want to find a place in "the gathering dark" and wait to see what happens.
In the enclosure of your heart,
the courage of Bear:
to enter the cave
in the season of slumber,
to lie down defenseless
in your gathering dark,
to know your sustaining
as my soul is made ready,
to give myself over
to dreaming of birth.