started the beginning of Celtic Advent,
a variation on the holiday where
Advent begins forty days before Christmas
(as opposed to the four weeks before).
The Gent and I have appreciated
this particular rendition as it parallels that of
the forty-day Lenten season before Easter,
both seasons of preparing the heart
for what is to come and be celebrated.
Last weekend also marked
the 'one month-iversary'
of the birth of our first child.
And so what follows is
a reflection intermingling the
tired and exhilarating days of
our budding family with the
cultivation of this holy season.
Peace and blessing to you this day.
“We haven’t even lit a candle today,” I said as I lay in bed, realizing how full our lives had become since giving birth a month ago. My babe was in my arms as Jonathan did a few things in our room.
“I can get one,” he gently responded.
Over the last many years, we've marked Advent—a season before Christmas for anticipating and reflecting on the significance of one particular babe’s holy birth—and have engaged in it with a variety of contemplative and cultural practices, one of which has been lighting candles on Sundays from mid-November until Christmas.
With all the brokenness so apparent in the world and in my own relationships and in my own heart, I yearned to mark Advent this year. I wanted to mark this intentional time of reflecting on Hope and Love that says despair and dysfunction are no more. One day, all will be made new.
But this year has been a little different. My weeks leading up to this weekend have been so full—‘round the clock full in such beautiful, sacred, demanding yet life-giving ways from being a new mother—that I haven't been able to prepare for the season the way that I like and usually do: creating festivity to help cultivate remembrance. No making of an Advent wreath to hold my candles, no fasting throughout the weeks, no cutting down a Christmas tree with the Gent and putting it up. (I love how the tree is then up when we celebrate American Thanksgiving, rooting it a bit deeper in gratitude for me.)
And yet, a few days ago, I was grateful to have this thought: remembering is marked by and in the heart. Perhaps my own season was just the right kind of season: a stripped-down one to engage with the essence of these holy days. This babe, this 'king'—the one foretold about in ancient prophesies and promises—was about the land of the heart.
And in that way, 'nations' are renewed—or rather, the whole of humanity, one heart at a time.
“We haven’t even lit a candle today,” I said, holding my new babe in my arms propped up in bed. The Gent came back into our room with a lit tea light on a simple, small platter.
I simply stared at it.
It was brilliant and undisturbed. Simple yet strong. Its quiet presence illuminating the dimness of our room with a strong, sacred stillness that somehow emanated its peace.
I just looked at it and the felt a welling up of lament. Grief for our world. Grief for broken relationships in my life. And yet simultaneously overwhelmed by the knowledge and promise that one day all will be made new. Hope from Love. This is the now and not yet. The middle of the story of time.
I gazed at this light that pointed to the Light of the world—that one holy birth that reframed all of existence, grounding life deeper in meaning and significance. That still and holy night where all was calm and all was bright.
And in that moment, I wept.
My heart ached from it all—the feeling of lament dancing with the real knowledge of hope—as my babe lay in my arms, fast asleep in a sort of heavenly peace.