I did not grow up with any Advent traditions. I am now just learning about Advent. I have to say I really like the concept of anticipation, learning what it means eagerly await the birth of Christ and His return. But I don’t completely understand it. There is a mystery to it all.
Growing up there was a room in our home we were not allowed to go in eleven months out of the year. With five kids in our family my mom held onto the living room tightly. This was her one place we couldn’t lounge, eat or even breathe. If there were footprints in the carpet she knew it and we got reprimanded. But right after Thanksgiving the room transformed. We put our Christmas tree in this room. It became a sanctuary. Christmas music wrapped us with the story of Jesus birth and His radical love for mankind. The melodies of love, life, joy, and peace played. Each song unique to the other but the messages were the same.
This was the only time of the year that mom allowed us in the room. This room became my haven. My heart would swell with a sense of longing and peace at the same time. After dinner I’d sit by the tree light doing my homework. The echo’s of the Christmas story filled me while the music played softly. I began a journey in this room. I started to long for something mysterious, something present and not yet fully known. The beauty of the tree and the room drew me in. It was a dazzling gift to my senses. The music grabbed hold and teased me with a hope of what was to come and it eased my soul with a comforting real time presence.
Being in a sacred place somehow drives the ache in your soul front and center.
This compelling room captivated me and at the same time made me more aware of what was sad and lonely in my world. It felt ok, to not feel ok. Most days I would have tried to stuff down the “negative” emotions of life; sadness, loneliness, insecurity etc. But not in this Christmas room. The songs of Christmas spoke comfort for what hurt and hope for what had not yet been settled. Longing was born, nurtured and welcomed in my heart.
I guess that is what happens in the presence of God, you are ok even if you don’t feel ok and it leaves you wanting more.
I shared before that this month I’ve been reading Keri Wyatt Kent’s book, Deeply Loved: 40 Ways in 40 Days to Experience the Heart of Jesus . In it she recommends reading Psalm 42 from an unfamiliar translation and ask God to reveal something to you. I chose the King James version. Verse three immediately struck a chord in me with its’ strange wording: “My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God?”
Funny, our pain really can be what we feed on day and night. The ache in our souls does make us question “God where are you?”
This verse is profoundly true. Isn’t that what longing is really about? God, where are you? When will You come? When will You make things better? The longing of our heart is really a cry for God. And that is good.
As this verse came to life I began to recognize something. I had learned about Advent. Oh it wasn’t in the traditional – church service – kind of way. It was in that Christmas room of my youth. It was there I began experiencing the angst that comes with anticipation mingling with comfort and peace. Awaiting the arrival of love’s pure light while dwelling in its’ glow. A mystery.
So for all that makes our hearts long for something, be of good cheer. It is a gift really because we are longing for the presence of God. And He has made His presence possible. Emmanuel. God with us mingling among our angst and quieting with comfort and peace. A mystery.
There are other insightful writers who are also reading Keri’s book and writing on Advent. Please click on the link below to read some of their thoughts. I’ve been blessed by them and I think you will be too.
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