I didn’t grow up in a tradition that talked much about Advent or Lent or the Liturgical Calendar in general, but I keep finding myself gravitating to these rhythms that connect me with God as well as other people of faith all over the globe. This year, for the first time, we have Advent candles in our home and are enjoying beautiful nature readings from Gayle Boss’ All Creation Waits.
I love the way these practices invite us into mystery, wonder, and quiet reflection. I come to this place not even really sure what I’m asking for or expecting to find, but trying to keep my heart, mind, and hands open to the work of the Holy in this cool, dark, dormant season. Who knows what mysterious things are being knit together in the hidden places, preparing to emerge in the spring?
As much as I tend to take things in through my head, I’m learning to let my body take the lead, at least occasionally. I don’t know much about these mysteries; just enough to be assured that I don’t need to understand or search for what is happening in the dark, quiet places. I only need to allow and to follow my body’s instinct to tune in with nature— slow down, rest more, and wait to see what will be born. The preparation happens naturally, quietly, and in surrender, as opposed to my usual attempts to take the reigns and anticipate what might happen.
A refrain rolls over and over in my mind from a Sondre Lerche song featured in the movie Dan in Real Life: “Prepare to be surprised.” I suppose this is another way of saying that the ultimate way to prepare is to let go of the need for preparation. What if instead of preparing for the worst, we prepared to be surprised? Just a small shift can reorient us to hope instead of faithlessness.