Already it's the end of the second week of Advent. I bought a Christmas tree. It's a little thing, a living tree, still rooted in the pot. I can keep it if I want to after the holidays, or plant it outside. I haven't decided yet. I know I craved something different this year that everything that means anything to me is different. I wanted to have something alive I could nurture in my life. I haven't put the miniature ornaments on it yet, but the weekend is coming. It'll be a good time for resting, rejuvenating, and putting on ornaments.
I haven't made my Advent wreath, either. Again, I wanted to do something different. I bought colored tea lights, and a glass bowl I plan to paint gold. And I bought black-eyed peas. I know, it's hard to picture what I'm going to do with the legumes, but it looked good here. You can see that Ailina used rice instead of black-eyed peas in hers, and with the other elements she added, it turned out lovely. I'll post a picture of mine when I get it the way I want it. Maybe I'll use my pretty wooden African bowl. I usually pull it out for my Kwanzaa display, but like I said, I'm in the mood to do something different.
This Advent season seems more penance than joy to me, but that's okay. It is, indeed, a penitential season. I don't mind doing serious business with God. To be honest, it frees me from any false compulsion to buy, buy, buy, or make, make, make, especially to do so to fill the void that my fractured family leaves in my soul. The changes in my life have forced me to slow down. I don't have the energy to do anything but wait for Christ. I'm too sad to look for anything but his coming. Come, Lord Jesus! Save me from my own life.
The past week the readings have focused on John the Baptist. What an inspiration to strip all the holiday fanfare down to the studs. Mr. Locust and honey is all about preparing the way of the Lord. Ever since Sunday, when I flew into the church breathless and late (okay, church was over, but Father Norman was kind enough to give me communion and share the gospel), I've been thinking about the forerunner. He asks us to prepare the way of the Lord. How do we do it? How do I do it in my own life? What extraneous, unnecessary things do I need to give up, get rid of, or give in to in order to make the Lord's path clear and straight. I could probably go to confession again. Nothing like a marriage ending to bring out the worst, and I do mean worst in people. Frequent confession? Yes! And now that the days are short and my mood has bottomed out, I find it necessary to budget my time wisely. I have to take care of myself, especially since I'm working. If I don't tend to my health, I won't be any good to my children, my intentional Christian community, or of any service to any soul God may send my way. Oh, yeah. I bought a light box. It's called a HappyLight Delux. Already the kid's have figured out when mom is snappy, "Go to the light." Smart alecks! But at least I'm trying. The doctors have only been trying to get me to buy one of these for a decade. But I digress.
Preparing the way of the Lord is a big letting go. I release what isn't truly mine. Some of that releasing was not my first choice. I'd have certainly chosen to hang on to much that is not gone. But I have noticed that what is left is all I need. And now I have room for a few things I may really, really want, but couldn't have because of the clutter.
And you know what? I realized that I don't need much. Even my kids have realized this. It's gonna be an interesting Christmas.
Last year I was so much was about the Baby. This year the Christ I seem to be waiting for is the fully grown, GodMan, my Good Spouse and Savior. There are so many ways to wait for the coming of the Lord. I had no idea back in the day when I used to pore over books about the rapture. There are so many ways for Christ to come to us, and here I am, my heart bowed, waiting, waiting, waiting, and happy--no honored--for the grace to even want him so.
I love you, Jesus. Come, quickly!
And friends, I love you, too.