Keeping Advent, day ten

Something is different this year.

I have not yet put up any Christmas decorations. I have not brought the manger scene up from the garage, nor have I even yet gotten around to hanging the Advent calendar. I have brainstormed gift ideas but not yet made a single purchase, and I have been content to work for long stretches in my office in silence, rather than filling each available second with the Christmas music I love so much.

But I think about Advent all the time. I think about Advent when I look outside at the first snow that is now beginning to melt under the bright winter sun. I think about Advent when I come to this space to write and share. I think about Advent when I spend time with my family and when I seek out sabbath places during this otherwise busy season.

And do you know what the best thing about all of this is? I don't feel anxious about getting Christmas preparations done. I don't feel anxious about the fact that Christmas Eve is in two weeks. I feel content, quiet, unhurried. I feel as if I am truly celebrating the season of Advent and everything it means. My heart - lazy, rebellious, or content as it may be - is whispering to me, "let Christmas happen when it arrives; no sense in being anxious."

For some reason, the following poem seemed to speak directly and beautifully to this truly Advent mood that I'm in these days. Enjoy!

"Making the House Ready for the Lord" by Mary Oliver

Dear Lord, I have swept and I have washed but
Still nothing is as shining as it should be
for you. Under the sink, for example, is an
uproar of mice—it is the season of their
many children. What shall I do? And under the eaves
and through the walls the squirrels
have gnawed their ragged entrances—but it is the season
when they need shelter, so what shall I do? And
the raccoon limps into the kitchen and opens the cupboard
while the dog snores, the cat hugs the pillow;
what shall I do? Beautiful is the new snow falling
in the yard and the fox who is staring boldly
up the path, to the door. And still I believe you will
come, Lord: you will, when I speak to the fox
the sparrow, the lost dog, the shivering sea-goose, know
that really I am speaking to you whenever I say,
as I do all morning and afternoon: Come in, Come in.

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