I recently came upon a piece by Richard Rohr about the season of Advent that made me think. I especially like this part:
Remember, when we speak of Advent or preparing for Christmas, we’re not just talking about waiting for the little baby Jesus to be born. That already happened 2,000 years ago. In fact, we’re welcoming the Universal Christ, the Cosmic Christ, the Christ that is forever being born in the human soul and into history.
And believe me, we do have to make room, because right now there is no room in the inn for such a mystery. We see things pretty much in their materiality, but we don’t see the light shining through. We don’t see the incarnate spirit that is hidden inside of everything material.
“Mystery” is exactly the right word for this time of the year. In the darkness and in the silence, there is mystery. There is an extra measure of that this Christmas. Normally we think that next Christmas will be much as it was in the past or is now. A year ago we could not have imagined the changes 2020 brought in the way we celebrate Christmas or in the way we live. It is hard to imagine what next Christmas will be like. All we can do is wait for the light to illumine and guide us in what is to come. For now we live in that mystery. We wait. We hope. We mourn. And still we celebrate.
David and I, along with our sons, Paul and Tim, and Tim’s girlfriend, Niina, made the hard choice not to get together for Christmas this year, given the risks involved. We will miss them. We’ll likely be meeting online over Christmas weekend, but we won’t have the chance to meet over a sumptuous meal, nor will we have the chance to exchange gifts in person. I have a feeling if we’re able to meet in person next year, we will not be taking it for granted. Rather, we’ll be filled with gratitude for the sheer joy of being able to meet in person.
David and I discussed the possibility of not getting a Christmas tree this year. It was tempting to forego the ritual of going on the hunt for just the right tree for our living room. But then David said, “We should probably get one to make up for all the years you couldn’t have one.” So we drove to Singers Glen and found a smaller than our usual tree, but it still looks nice all decorated. Some of our ornaments date back to our first Christmas together, and others remind us of the times when our sons were little and they would help hang ornaments. Then there are those from their school years when they made ornaments from walnuts, paper, or wood. We still find a place on our tree each year for these ornaments infused with memories of Christmases past.
Then there is the setting up of the creche, which is one of David’s specialties. He also does the lights around his village pieces, and he strings the lights on the tree. I hang the ornaments and set up the other decorations, such as our candlelight “merry-go-rounds, both from Germany.
I’m glad we went through the effort of getting the tree and docorating. It feels festive, and it is a celebration of light in this darkest time of year. David and I both love sitting in the living room in silence with only the Christmas lights on. Perhaps it is our way of celebrating the mystery of Advent and Christmas. We look for the light that shines through the darkness and the silence.