Imperfect Advent

December 14, 2014

I love Advent, the waiting, the yearning, the pregnancy. Incarnation. The Holy Mighty curled in Mary’s womb, drawing all He needs from her flesh and blood. Borne in her body, so that He can be born in ours.

I love to light an Advent candle each year, and watch each day burn down to the next. Though in our often chaotic home, the progression is rarely orderly. Sometimes a day slips by and then a few days merge together. And that’s all right, much like life. We always get to the birthday in the end.

So this year, I sat down to order an Advent candle as usual, somewhere back in November, and… I don’t even remember what intervened but time passed and there I was yesterday, 13th December, just catching breath to enter into Advent and no candle to mark the missing days or the coming days either.

But, well, Advent is about a baby God carried inexorably into messy, imperfect, human life, with straw and sheep instead of sheets, and nothing quite how Mary must have imagined it. And if I can’t start Advent on 13th December, when can I start it?

So, no trying to catch up. I find 12 small candle holders, one for each remaining day, and a lantern for Christmas Day. I fill them up with night lights and set them out on the mantelpiece. Thirteen candles to remind me that where I am is where I begin, and where I begin again.



Hidden in the womb
darkness of waiting,
baby hands and feet play,
feel, touch, kick,
changing Mary from the inside out.
With every interruption,
every moment broken
open, the light whispers, I am


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