Contrary to what has been bombarding us since Halloween, the tempo, the ambiance and the liturgies in the monastery do not yet speak of Christmas, the great Feast of the Incarnation. Rather, we remain contemplatively focused on this season of desire and longing, patient waiting and personal spiritual preparation.
Many years ago, in another life time, when I was the much harried working single mother of three young sons I had a dream during the lead up time to Christmas. In the dream I experienced great relief because I was reminded that it really wasn't Advent. It was Lent. In my sleep I was reaching out for the relief presented by the idea of it being the pentitential season of Lent rather than in the hectic and endlessly demanding crazy pre-Christmas season. That my unconscious created such a dream was sad commentary on the degree to which I had allowed this time of the Liturgical year to be distorted in meaning and focus.
So we take it slow here. The Divine Office (Liturgy of the Hours) keeps moving in the right direction and at a nice slow place. We are inspired to be prepared for our salvation is at hand. We are asked to look and see and listen to the signs of the times. We are asked to make ready for the arrival of our God who comes to dwell among us; in the same nitty-gritty of our lives of joy and sorrow, pain and pleasure, disappointment and achievement, success and failure, wins and losses. Truly, this is something to be fully prepared to receive when Christmas comes at the end of the month.