Sunday, November 26, 2006

The season of bated breath

Well, we had Thanksgiving. The turkey is gone now, having provided a lot of nice sandwiches. The plastic container of leftover stuffing has been nibbled away to nothing. Before our daughter went back to college this afternoon, I bribed her to put together the Christmas tree (a job I hate but she enjoys, and I won't see her again till after her finals). So now in our living room, we are celebrating "Christoween": on the mantel are small pumpkins and gourds, and next to them the naked Christmas tree. Oh well. Things in our house never happen in a tidy fashion.

And so Advent is about to begin. Time rushes by so quickly at this time of year that it is no wonder our lives become disordered. And yet -- of course I never felt this when I was young -- is there not a profound stillness at the heart of Advent, almost as though the world is holding its breath? Can we pause to feel this stillness of expectation, or will we miss it again this year?

Andre Louf, writing in The Cistercian Way, describes a monk's night vigil in a way that suggests to me the hushed waiting of Advent:

"Every morning, even while it is still night, the monk rises joyfully
to await the wonders that the Lord will work that day. But he does
not keep watch only for himself. He watches indeed lest Jesus come
to visit him during the day which is dawning, but he watches also
on behalf of the Church and the whole world. As he waits for the dawn,
he is on the alert for the slightest signs which could announce the
imminent return of Jesus at the end of time. Jesus is always near
and always on the point of returning ... It is then in the name of
the whole world that the monk sets himself to wait in prayer."

I pray that I may find some time, during this busy season, in which to wait in silence and darkness for Jesus's coming, and to remember that I should greet every morning as if He will come ... today ... now.

1 comment:

Rachel's Big Dunk said...


Just last night I woke before dawn and felt that sense of waiting for Jesus. It is so wonderful when it happens.

Thanks for this...