Now, the promise is renewed; the story begins again
I shed tears of gratitude and joy that you have come ’round again, O Advent, to shake us from our torpor as early night comes, and the match is struck, and the message is brought home once more that we are forever in the absence of light; it is beyond us and exterior until we make it welcome and bring it, like a lover, within.
Welcome into our deepest void; welcome into the parts of us touched by human frost, and stunted.
Welcome, O Light, beaming glorious, into remotest apertures of our souls, rays aglow, warmth permeating where we have left old fires unattended and embers to wane, and our abysses to grow chill and uninhabitable. Welcome light, dispelling illusion, and chasing old ghosts to rest.
Now, the promise is renewed; the story begins again. The beginning: quiescence and void. Then movement: an annunciation; a word—one boundless, vibrant yes that shakes creation. “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God, my savior!” Soon there will be dreams, and silent wondering, and a gathering, and a starry night rent with song. The Word Present penetrates lonely, lost humanity and enters into the pain and fear, the tumult and whirlwind; he sets his tent with us not merely dwelling among but literally with us; with hunger, with the capacity for injury and doubt—with enough vulnerability to be broken—and within this espousal, everything is illuminated!
I pray with an earnest heart that I might keep Advent at the fore, and the World of Illusions and Easy Forgettings somewhere at bay, where I can not so easily reference it, or be so quickly distracted.
Each day you and I will be in Advent—the time of coming, that which anticipates all the rest—so that (and this is my heartfelt prayer) when December 25 comes, we will not be sick of it, and the Darkness will not feel glee at our diluted light; instead we will have only just begun to hear strains of ancient song, coming closer in ever-stronger waves. Like a quickening pulse grown stable, and signaling life where it was thought lost. Our longing will only just have become satisfied, and our journey only just begun.
I have a friend whose mother, after a stroke, had very limited speech. If she wanted to wish you well, or express happiness for you, she would say, “Merry Christmas!” It meant everything good, everything full of love.
This first week in Advent let us move forward in humble adventuring, seeking out the divine “Yes” spoken from heaven and the faith-filled “yes” whispered on earth. Let us strike a match and cover our faces in prayer, that the lifting up of our hands be as an evening sacrifice, acceptable. Let us eat figs and drink wine, and work faithfully at our labor, and sweep and sing and slumber, until we gather with shepherds and kings, to meet, and to worship, and to tell what we have found.
Then, if we have only “Merry Christmas” to say for the rest of our lives, all around will understand how packed with meaning is the phrase.
Elizabeth Scalia is Editor-in-Chief of the English edition of Aleteia