Welcome to the Irrational Season! The words of Madeleine L’engle, taken from her book of the same name, move me every year. “Had Mary been filled with reason…” So true. So true of our lives. Just last week I listened to a debate “The world would be better off without religion” and as I listened to those for the argument, it was implied many times that those who need religion lack the ability to reason. While I believe it is a poor and false argument, there are points where my faith defies my reason. There was a point where Mary’s faith trumped reason.
Today the first Sunday of Advent marks the season and with it the time of expectation and waiting. Growing up I was not familiar with the term Advent. It is possible that I just missed the word. To be sure there was an expectancy and waiting but there was no evergreen wreath with four candles centered around a single white middle candle and there was no 4-Sunday theme. The traditions were a blend between traditions from our home and those from the minority Christian community in Pakistan.
When I discovered some of the traditions around Advent, including the wreath and readings, it was a bit like a foreign language. But I have since come to appreciate this more and more each year. Most of all I appreciate giving voice to a longing coupled with an urgent expectancy.
I have often thought that most of my longing is about being a Third Culture Kid. That there is a unique longing and grief associated with growing up between worlds is true but it is in a separate category. The longing that I can give words to at Advent is not the longing associated with place and people. It’s the longing for the world to be as it ought. It’s a spiritual longing for all to be made right, for a broken world to find redemption and with redemption be made whole and complete. To see a homeless woman with neuropathy and long for her to be made whole and find a home; to hear of atrocities and long for justice; to hear of pain and long for comfort; to see the world as it was intended, not as it is. Advent gives voice to this longing. It allows me to put words to both longing and expectancy in the same breath. “No more let sin and sorrows grow, Nor thorns infest the ground; He comes to make His blessings flow far as the curse is found….”
And that is my reflection this first Sunday of Advent.
Note: The Icon at the top of the page was written by my husband. I found out through his learning how to paint icons that they are not “painted” but “written” – the artist is writing the story of the people in the icon as they reflect on their lives. This icon took 48 hours to write.