A friend of mine always says, “When it gets dark, you can either rush to turn on a light or you can sit still and wait for your eyes to adjust to the darkness.” I think of that often during Advent. When we are busy and bustling, it is easy to go to the quick fix of the light switch. It is easy to just get busier as a way to avoid the quiet of the darkness and the voices in the back of our minds. Advent invites us to fight the instinct to get busier or rush to turn on the light. Advent invites us to sit in the dark, waiting, and let our eyes adjust until we realize how much light has always been there waiting for us to notice.
I have always loved Advent. In Minnesota, nature reflects the liturgical season in the most precious of ways. The days are short and darkness prevails. We still wonder at the beauty and hush that comes with each new snowfall. We get out blankets, light fires, make hot chocolate and decorate our houses with white lights that dance on the white snow. We hunker down. February is all about fighting the darkness and bundling up to take the cold head on, but in Advent, we welcome the new chill as an invitation to slow down. We snuggle into the new pace and let our shoulders relax a bit. It feels decadent and womb-like.
This Advent, the process of slowing down and adjusting to the cold and dark is intensified by the birth of my first child on November 23rd, one week before the start of Advent. We are learning each other, spending a lot of time staring at each other and snuggling on the couch. It is a time filled with hushed wonder, overwhelming goodness and abundant love. My to-do list has evaporated, and I am reveling in the moments I can be fully present to this new little person in my life.
A few days after getting home from the hospital, I got an Advent intention card from my church with the theme and sermon series for Advent. The card has a lone, snowy evergreen sitting in a dark night with one bright star shedding just enough light. It reads, “What if this year you slowed long enough for the God of the Universe to find you…to be with you…to dwell within you?”
The card was a beautiful validation of the shift already taking place in my heart and being. I am going to keep the card visible this Advent as a reminder that there is goodness in just being still. Waiting can be hard. Darkness can be hard. Being still can be hard for us. But if we slow just a bit, maybe the God of the Universe will swell and dwell in each of us. For me, there is comfort in being sought and found by the God who created us and loves us all. And in that slowness, may we find time to recognize the God dwelling in us and be filled with hushed wonder and awe.