Pre-Christian peoples who lived far north and who suffered the archetypal loss of life and light with the disappearance of the sun had a way of wooing back life and hope. Primitives do not separate the natural phenomena from their religious or mystical yearning, so nature and mystery remained combined. As they days grew shorter and colder and the sun threatened to abandon the earth, these ancient people suffered the sort of guilt and separation anxiety which we also know. Their solution was to bring all ordinary action and daily routine to a halt. They gave in to the nature of winter, came away from their fields and put away their tools. They removed the wheels from their carts and wagons, festooned them with greens and lights and brought them indoors to hang in their halls. They brought the wheels indoors as a sign of a different time, a time to stop and turn inward. They engaged the feelings of cold and fear and loss. Slowly, slowly they wooed the sun-god back. And light followed darkness. Morning came earlier. The festivals announced the return of hope after primal darkness…
Imagine what would happen if we were to understand that ancient prescription for this season literally and remove—just one—say just the right front tire from our automobiles and use this for our Advent wreath. Indeed, things would stop. Our daily routines would come to a halt and we would have the leisure to incubate. We could attend to our precarious pregnancy and look after ourselves. Having to stay put, we would lose the opportunity to escape or deny our feelings or becomings because our cars could not bring us away to the circus in town. -Gertrud Mueller Nelson
Most everyone is, I imagine, feeling that last-minute crunch. This long reflection by Mueller Nelson is, I hope, a corrective lens for that crunch in your heart. The truth is: nothing you will buy between now and Christmas, and nothing you will unwrap on that day, will make you any more wonderful, human, or important than you are right now.
Take a moment, friend, to “attend to your precarious” life and look after yourself. The hope of this season is not even in the season itself! It is, rather, in the thing the season points to: a future with God in our midst, with peace and calm and freedom from calamity.
- What is one thing you need to do that you can just not do in this season? Cross it off your list.
- What do you want to make different about next Advent and the lead-up to Christmas? Write it down. Speak it into being.
Let us pray. God of the pregnant pause, help us to slow down in these moments leading up to Christmas. May we learn to walk the way of peace, even as appointments and frenzied activities flurry around us. Call us back to this time of waiting. Let us not rush through the necessary waiting. Amen.
All italicized quotes, poems, and prayers come from An Advent Sourcebook (Liturgy Training Publications/Chicago, IL, 1986).