“A prison cell, in which one waits, hopes – and is completely dependent on the fact that the door of freedom has to be opened from the outside, is not a bad picture of Advent”
For better or worse, I skipped right over a Thanksgiving post this year. Any ounce of creativity I have of late has been poured into hours spent working on photos, which is all good and well. I love taking photos. I’m thankful that it is my bread and butter. I want to write some words about thankfulness, and I will some time soon, when I catch my breath. I’m excited about the prospect of getting back to writing in December as the pre-holiday photo rush calms towards a more normal pace. In the meantime, I’m loving the craze of so many little people I love passing in front of my lens with their families. The wonder and joy of children growing up captivates me endlessly. I’m thankful for their curious hands and squirmy bodies and eager minds and smart little mouths… but I digress. This is a post about Advent.
The word Advent means coming, and in the Christian world it marks the 40 days of waiting and preparing our hearts, communally and individually, for the coming of Jesus. It’s a season of looking back to the coming of Christ. It is a season of looking forward to his return. I love Advent. I love the hope discovered in the story of the Christ child, the unlikeliness of baby Jesus’ birth followed by the unlikeliness of his survival those first years followed by the unlikeliness of his wisdom as a boy followed by his unlikely rise, not to fame or power, but to the cross. The wisdom in his humility is utterly captivating. Believers and unbelievers alike have pondered his ways and teachings for the last two thousand years. Those ways and teachings compel lives to change towards belief that we can live love because Jesus lived love.
Advent reminds me I love Jesus. I seem to have an annual pile of busyness that builds up throughout the year, and come Thanksgiving I pause to be thankful (for so much), exhausted. A few days later Advent begins, and it is just in time for the photography rush to almost begin to end. I want to pause and wander around the stories of the gospels. I want to savor the questions Jesus asks and that his coming leaves me with. I don’t hesitate to be frank about my doubts, because really, I believe he is God, and I believe he is big enough to use them to turn me to hope time and again. And Jesus brought hope. That night the angels chorused above the shepherds? They knew hope had taken on human form and laid his life down in a manger. The shepherds celebrated, because when angels appear in the sky, what more can you do but believe something great is coming? So they hoped.
These few weeks of anticipating Christmas mean a full stop comes, and we have this glorious invitation to reorient our lives around the One we were intended to live for. When we do so, we live hope in the world. This is what I believe.