In one of life’s little ironies, I slept eight hours last night for the first time in months. This is ironic, of course, because I am in the week of the semester where I should be sleeping the least. Everything is due between now and Monday. Presentations, papers, the first three chapters of my thesis (which I’ve procrastinated on horribly), that last bit of data entry I promised my boss I would get done, my expense reports for the semester . . . it’s all coming to a head. And now is the time my body decides it is capable of sleep.
Oh, and it’s the first week of Advent.
During my first three years of undergrad, I joked that the Christmas season didn’t officially begin until 24 hours after I had turned in my last final. That gave me time to shower, do two loads of laundry, eat a couple of times, and sleep for at least twelve hours. By the end of that period, I would have processed the stress of final exams and started to feel somewhat human again. By that time, I was ready to celebrate.
The last few years have been different, though. I’ve always loved the Advent season. It was the first remotely liturgical tradition I was introduced to. But these last few years, particularly as I’ve wrestled with my faith, Advent has been particularly meaningful.
I’ve been tempted to ignore the beginning of the Advent season this year. My tree isn’t up, and I haven’t had time to go buy candles. My apartment is a mess, my grades are hanging in the balance, and the last thing I feel like doing is thinking about the beginning of a holiday that will culminate in a visit to my parents.
But I feel the call to wait.
I realize that the names for the four Advent candles differ from one tradition to another, but at home, the first week was always the Prophet’s Candle. We read passages from the Old Testament and remembered Israel’s long wait for the Messiah. A Messiah that, ironically, they were too busy to recognize when he finally came.
So this Advent season, I am making time to wait. Even if that just means lighting my usual candle, reading a little extra scripture, and singing “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” I am making time to remember, to contemplate, and to wonder. I am making time for the season so I won’t miss the Messiah when he shows up.
How are you waiting this Advent season?
Bonus round: The Advent book we used while I was growing up had a poem/prayer for each candle. I can’t always remember all of them, but the first week was “Like a candle long ago, your promise, Lord, burned true. You keep all your promises, keep us true to you.” It’s not officially Advent until someone says that poem.