We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
~T. S. Eliot - Four Quartets
Today begins a new year for many of us who follow the church's liturgical calendar. Today is the first Sunday of Advent, Year A in our three year Sunday lectionary cycle and Year Two in our Daily Office lectionary cycle. And all that information and $4.25 will get you a venti latte at Starbucks.
My real concern today is how will this Advent be different? How will I prepare my heart for the annual celebration of the coming of the Christ Child? I have gone through this ritual year after year after year and always seem to be coming up a bit dry and greatly off track by the time this new year's day arrives. So I am claiming T. S. Eliot's words from one of my favorite poems as I begin the waiting season this year...
I shall not cease from waiting
and the end of all my waiting
will be to arrive where I started
and know the place for the first time.
I pose a few questions to begin. "What am I waiting for? What will the end of my waiting look like? Where will I arrive and how will I know I am there?
Key words for me this Advent include: Light, Darkness, Pruning hooks and Plowshares, Swords and Spears, Waking, Sleeping, Being ready, Unexpected.
I also hear the words of St. Paul..."I have done those things that I ought not to have done and I have not done those things that I ought to have done, and there is no health in me." (paraphrased!)
So begins the season of Advent, a season of active waiting, not the "Waiting for Godot" type waiting that I might have done in the past, but intense awakening and searching for a new and different ending to the waiting which will end with the Greatest Mystery of all: The birth of Love, the fulfillment of God's promises, the coming of God's kingdom
...knowing the Love of God again for the first time is my Advent hope this year.
Here's a little story from Paul Simpson Duke that gives me new perspective and something new to strive for.
"At St. Louis University is a small Jesuit chapel that is creatively lit. The light fixtures are made of twentieth-century cannon shells, converted. Emptied of their lethal contents, they now hold light for people to pray by."
O Gracious God, let me lay down my weapons filling their shells with light, and let me be a living witness to the promise of transformation made possible by the birth of your Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen