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Henry Tanner  The Three Wise Men 1925_jpgSeems like every year, it gets harder to wait for it. The surprise that never comes. The news that never breaks.  The visitor that never arrives.

It is the first week of Advent again – the beginning of a new year in the old Christian tradition. But it’s not like Happy New Year…there is no cheer, no celebration. There is a settling in. Like arriving early to a sold out show and watching the crowd fill in, the band take the stage.

Advent, they say, is all about expectation and anticipation. It’s preparation for the arrival of something expected, something coming.  And expectations often require the exercise of waiting…hence, the anticipation element. But I’m seeing Advent through a different lens this year. Patience is shorter.  Reality is settling in. Perhaps there are possibilities too wonderful for me to fathom. Fine then. Just give me the long road…

Advent is an undoing of popular culture’s influence on every day life and being. For the most part, we are raised to perform well in order to attain an expected result. We participate in achievement.  We work hard, we do well, we win. Or we lose. It’s the American way.

But privilege and entitlement are not the stripes of the journey, character is.  So what conditions us to just soak it all in…each and every beautiful, agonizingly same moment that passes? This is what the spiritual life is. This is a great purpose religion can serve. To condition you to fare well on the journey.

It is wise, always, to consider the journey to the gift…like the wise men following the star. Sometimes the only thing you can hope in, is what you can see, what you believe you know. Faith is a different exercise.
Advent Questions for Anytime
I revisit these questions for Advent reflection each year and again, thought it fitting to share them with you. Consider the journey…

1. What is God waiting for you to notice?

2. How might you prime yourself to notice, to be more aware of God’s presence and action in your life?

3. What is growing within you?

4. Where are you on your journey?

5. Has your path been straight or crooked?

6. Who is accompanying you on your path?

7. What is your deepest desire?

8. Can you see where you are being led?