This year for the first time in a long while, I am observing Advent and celebrating Christmas with a community of which I am a part. It is a lovely gift-instructive and comforting. While I cherish the solitude that is part of my every day routine, I am swept up in the shared wakefulness that is part of Advent.
I love being directed to notice a sign of life and light that someone else has seen first: “Look! over there. Would you have believed it?” Things that I had passed by, had gone unnoticed, come into view with the attentiveness of another , as a marker of hope and healing. I am blessed!
I love singing with others! Harmonies, melodies, of familiar and new festal songs touch my body and spirit in inexplicable ways: “Music I heard with you was more than music.” (C. Aiken). It isn’t just the great swelling choruses to join that make my heart glad, but sometimes the very quiet ancient hymns and chants that open my soul to the Holy: “Of the Father’s love begotten, ere the worlds began to be, He is Alpha and Omega, He the source, the ending He.” Or the one which has worked its way up to my top 5 list. “In The Bleak Midwinter” in the words of Christina Rossetti, “…Yet, what can I give him? Give him my heart.” To sit with others in song and wonder fills me with longing and with hope.
I realize anew how much can happen in and around me when I sit in silence with others. It has a qualitative difference than solitary silence. What is it that makes communal silence so eloquent? How are my senses sharpened when I contemplate with others in silence? What in my soul becomes more attuned to the Holy when I am in the presence of others who are also in contemplation? I don’t have words, but I feel the silent energy.
I am blessed to be included in the story telling that is part of Advent. The memories from other times and places, the dreams of a lifetime and the creation of meaning in the event of the present moment are are vehicles for sharing good news of Holy Presence. of Spirit movement, of tidings of comfort and joy. My story is blended with the multi-colored tales of others to add to the great Narrative of God with us, in the past, in the future and in the present moment.
And the special celebratory breads that are broken and cups of glogg shared around tables and living rooms nourish and warm me. “There is communion of more than our bodies when bread is broken and wine is drunk.” (M.F.K. Fisher) Coffee cakes, cookies, stews and roasts, cocoas and mulled wines and Christmas roasts enliven my senses to the richness of the creative Spirit springing out of the created earth, in anticipation of the new things to be born, the New One to be born. Sharing that in the growing light of Advent feeds my spirit as well as my body.
And waiting is much easier with others than in solitude. My lonesome soul waits for God, but in anticipating God in the company of saints and angels, I become more sure, more hopeful, more open to the surprises of Christ’s coming.
I find myself grateful for community this Advent with all of the depth and breadth of God’s variety adding to my solitary experience of the Holy. It is easy and right to be grateful in the presence of the faithful ones. Thanks to each of you, virtually and in person, for accompanying me this Advent.