Sunday, December 9
By Mary Kelly
“December is a holy month. Maybe it is the dark, silky silence that descends so early that speaks to me of reverence. Maybe it is the promise that December holds – that no matter how dark, how cold, how empty it can get, the light is coming back. Something always shifts in me when December arrives – I embrace the darkness, and am eager for the coming solstice when the whole world is still and holds its breath, waiting to be reborn again.” – Meg Casey
My daughter Leanne and I initiated a delightful weekly ritual this past summer. Once a week, after work, I drove down to her funky little lakefront neighborhood. We worked out together at her gym and then took long walks along the beach. Ahh we revel in the warm summer nights on the lakefront (who doesn’t?!)… the skies that stay sunny deep into the evening hours, the stunning blueness of the water, the freedom and aliveness in the air. As summer dwindled, we really held tightly to those moments, the balmy temperatures, knowing all too well it would soon change… and change it DID!
I like to think of those of us who choose to live our lives amidst such seemingly rapid and radical shifts in our weather as “meteorological mystics”. On some cosmic level we must embrace the inevitability of the change of seasons. This cyclical rhythm does something to us… it summons and compels us to mysterious places… it dances with our being. Perhaps something in us anticipates and even welcomes the necessary surrender.
In this way, we are an Advent People.
“This is Advent – when as sleepers we awaken to our own light of love deep within us, waiting to be reborn again in the dark stables of our own souls.” – Parker Palmer
Are we, as Parker Palmer says, “sleepers awakening to our own light of love deep within?”
Parker tells us that the word “advent” literally means “the coming,” and that, in this sense, these weeks in December are indeed a time of advent for all of us – wherever we live and whatever our spiritual sense. “The light is coming. All of Creation – and we – wait together for that coming.”
My daughter and I have continued our weekly ritual into this December. And though during our (very
brief) walks we do notice the beauty of the cold, dark sky and starkly frozen ground – still we intensely long for the return of the light – of warmth and new life. It is out of our grasp in this moment. We are powerless. We have to wait.
There is often an urge to escape, (even mystics check the airfares to Miami) but I know there is an invitation to linger in this longing and to trust in the incarnation… the new life that is to come. St. Ignatius teaches us that the deep longings of our hearts will lead us to change, to grow, to become who we are. If we can just patiently be with our longings, we create a sanctuary for the divine within us. We stay present – just to witness – our own birth.
Wishing you stillness, trust, patience in this Holy Season of Advent.
Mary Kelly is a Spiritual Director and Retreat Leader at Old St. Pat’s.
If you would like to explore your inner life and longing with a compassionate companion, please contact Tammy Roeder at firstname.lastname@example.org, 312-798-2350 to learn more about the ministry of spiritual direction at Old St. Pat’s.