approaching advent

This morning we woke up to a surprise snow - our second of the season, and just a light dusting, really, but neither of those factors made it any less exciting to a certain almost-four-year-old.  Before 8 am, she and I were snow-booted and tromping around the backyard.

“Mommy, I think this snow is trying to tell us that it’s almost snow-season,” she said, licking a handful of snow from a purple mitten.

The season of Advent begins this Sunday.  Since Thanksgiving fell on the earliest possible day this year, our Christmas season is the longest it can possibly be, and we have a week of breathing space between Thanksgiving and the first day of Advent. I needed it.

Over the last decade or more, I’ve tried to practice Advent, mostly unsuccessfully. Advent is supposed to be a season devoted to waiting for Christ to appear. To cultivating watchfulness, hope, and anticipation.  I think in my mind observing Advent looks like being alone in my parents’ living room at dusk, twinkle lights from the tree casting magical shadows, my mind in some silent meditative state contemplating Christ’s arrival.

Clearly, that state only happens for about five minutes a year, at most. It’s little wonder my practice of Advent has felt mostly unsuccessful.

I’ve tried Advent devotionals and reading regimens too, but my devotion always sputters out before the end of the season, and I find myself at the Christmas Eve service more focused on keeping hot wax off everyone’s fingers and fire out of everyone’s hair than on the little baby who is the light of the world.

This year, instead of seeking some zen state of meditative holiness, I’m going to do two things.  For one of them, I need your help.  I’m going to post every day during the season of Advent.  I’ll share some of my thoughts, but I’ll also share poems, songs, quotes, and images that speak of hopeful anticipation.  And I’d love to share some of your thoughts, if you’d like to write a guest post for me.

And secondly, I’m just going to be watching for signs of the kingdom breaking in.  Because at Advent, we’re anticipating Christ’s birth, which has already happened, and we’re also anticipating his return to earth, the full kingdom of God and its upside-down values transforming our lives. Like the powder that tells Rosie that snow-season is coming, these signs are everywhere, and this season I’m watching for them, focusing less on the “in sin and error pining,” and more on the “he appeared, and the soul felt its worth,” delighting in that the way my kid delights in the first signs of winter. Join me?

(PS: Today you can download Over the Rhine’s Christmas album free at Noisetrade!)