Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Advent Chaos

Advent is kind of a funny season. We try to pack so many things in--concerts and caroling and parties and baking and gift-giving. And then we complain about it being too commercial, too irreverent, too busy to stop and reflect as we think we should. Some people react to that by cutting out all the activity and focusing on Christ instead. This advent has seemed unusually off for us, as we've watched our dear friend endure chemo while she tries to also "make Christmas" for her small children.

But I think it's that tension between chaos and calm that best exemplifies Advent. After all, while we wait for a baby to be born or adopted we fill that time with activity--planning, getting a room and bed ready...the chaos of preparing room in our lives for another life. Mary herself traveled and visited and frantically looked for a place to have her baby. The birth of our Lord was anything but calm and serene--surrounded by dirt and animals and poverty and rough shepherds.

So this advent it feels appropriate to embrace the bustle. Yes, it's important to make time for contemplation. We need to prepare our hearts for the coming of our Savior. But I think it's also okay for everything to feel a bit chaotic. Maybe even sad at times. And definitely too busy. The mixture of pain and joy and activity that seems to be an integral part of this season is the true meaning of the Incarnation, after all--Jesus coming to be with us in all our sorrows and all our rejoicing. Peace on Earth and Good Will toward Men.

And so, today, I'm not going to feel guilty about the buzz around me. I'm going to work and bake and spend time with friends and plan parties for my children and their friends and live with the mess around me--a messy house and a messy world. I'm going to laugh and maybe even cry. I'm going to squeeze moments of contemplation out of the constant chaos around me, and I'm going to be content with all of that instead of wishing things could slow down. That is how I'm going to celebrate Advent this year.

1 comment:

  1. Well said. I poem I wrote about 10 yrs ago speaks to the busy part--pointing to the promise of the season as antidote to the harried-ness:

    Awaiting Angels

    Lo, the time of getting and giving has come
    deadlines loom: shopping, assembling, mailing,
    providing presents, being present, numb
    to cheer but still my given task assailing.
    Songs of the season make background noise.
    My heart almost rises to praise, but the sum
    of my exhaustion deadens joys;
    hectic, dreary days leave me glum.

    Where are the angels in our plane-crowded skies?
    When did holiness dwindle to fur-trimmed elf
    in flying sleigh? My focus must shift
    from present markets to a truth that lies
    in distant Bethlehem, remind myself
    what angels told: God newborn, eternal gift.