Yes, that’s right. This Sunday, November 29, we begin a new Christian Year, with the season called “Advent.” The Gospel reading for this first Sunday in Advent (Mark 13:32-37) encourages us to “stay alert” and to “keep watch” through the season (actually through our whole lives) while we wait attentively for the “coming near” of God (which is what Advent means).
Perhaps this year, we’ll actually be able to notice Advent. Usually , Advent’s quiet ‘attentive waiting’ gets lost under all the hustle, bustle, shop-til-you-drop of a normal December. But this year is so different !This pandemic has stripped pretty much everything down to the bare essentials. While that’s been hard in so many ways, with some profound, even lasting losses, there have been some surprising gifts to this laying bare; children playing outside with neighbours; slower home-cooked meals around a kitchen table with no one rushing off to the next scheduled sports activity or music lesson. And what about those Zoom calls with grandparents, or long-lost now reconnected friends? And a creation filled with such beautiful sunsets (was that a gift of less traffic, less smog, perhaps?)
So I anticipate this Advent with a renewed curiosity, wondering what simple traditions we will recover, wondering if we’ll actually get to try out some “attentive waiting” for real this year. Attentive waiting for the hope and promise of a vaccine (!) enables us to practise a spiritual attentive waiting for the hope and promise of a “Way” of living that is gentler, kinder, fairer, more just, not just for “we”, but for “all”. It is what we ALL long for, deep down, isn’t it?