I’ve heard a lot of chatter over the past few years about Advent. I had always associated Advent with high church in my mind, and so this reawakening/trendiness in broader Protestant culture was interesting to me. In my curiosity last year, I found a simple Advent reading calendar, and I resolved to read the few verses a night with JD in preparation for Christmas. I felt like I was going to experience something mystical and beautiful. After all, my favorite Christmas hymn is “O Come, O Come Immanuel.” What better song to love than one that embodies the spirit of Advent? It felt right. Advent was coming to the Dargai household.
Then I completely forgot about my Advent reading calendar until December 25. This is my life.
So this year was going to be different. I set a reminder on my phone. I would not forget. Nothing would get in my way.
JD and I started our Advent readings December 3. Better late than never.
As I heard the buzz of this word…advent…and thought of candles being lit, shepherds watching their flock by night, this season of breathless expectation, I envisioned moments of great peace, magical silence, tearful whispers of “Jesus”, a bright glimmer on everything I saw, and perhaps a faint singing in the background by an angel chorus.
However, the advent I’ve experienced so far has been moments of interruption and thoughts of “What am I doing?” I’ve cried in frustration and exhaustion. I’ve literally said to JD, “I hate that I’m being mean to you… but I feel like I can’t control what’s coming out of my mouth because I’m so tired.” I chuckle a little at that moment now, but truly, the situation has been dire.
I’ve felt like I’ve been waiting for Christmas break, for the end of the week, for when I can get in my car and drive home, for something, anything. I’ve felt like I’ve been grasping at promises of peace and at the same time scoffing at them. I’ve said to myself, “This is not the spirit of Advent! You are supposed to be peacefully waiting!” And then I’ve cried some more in shame.
But perhaps everything I’ve described is an aspect of the spirit of Advent. If it’s not the spirit, it’s certainly the reason for having a tradition of refocusing our mind, of waiting for peace, for life, for rest, for the Messiah. Even in our crummiest moments, and perhaps most especially in our crummiest moments, our holding on for dear life points to the mystery of Advent.
This morning as I was reading from Isaiah, I realized that my heart’s prayer really is “Come, Lord Jesus.” Sure, it’s not in a tranquil, meditative voice. It’s more of a pant or a cough. But it’s a prayer nonetheless.
Mother Teresa graciously said, “Prayer is in all things, in all gestures.” Even in my 4 AM alarms and meetings and faint buzz (rather than the angel chorus!) in my over-caffeinated brain, there is a prayer.
“Come, Lord Jesus” is a prayer of my striving, of my crying, of my wearying. It’s a prayer for peace, for life, for rest, for the Messiah.