Recently, I joined BCM and friends for an evening of pause and reflection on the turning of the seasons and the welcoming of winter. Ched reminded us of the importance of developing an attunement with the natural seasons (as opposed to the consumer season – Starbucks, Macy’s, television, etc., which starts earlier and earlier each year). The Equinoxes and Solstices are gifts to not only take the time to connect with the created cosmos, but to connect with our own journeys and the different seasons we experience personally.
I am reminded of the same power the Christian Liturgical Calendar has. Walking closely with the natural seasons, the Liturgical calendar also challenges us to go deeper into the cycles of life and creates space for pause and attention. Although by no means am I an expert in the calendar, nor a purist in its practice, I am still significantly formed and guided by its own seasons that call us communally and individually into reflection and action.
For the past week, I have been pondering the relation between Advent and Christmas. I am an Advent and Lent geek who finds Christmas and Easter a slight let down. I am not entirely sure why this is, but wonder if it might have something to do with the fact that we humans live a majority of our lives in expectation (Advent) and suffering (Lent). We are constantly anticipating (and craving) the coming of the Divine to break into our broken and hurting world. We spend more time talking about the coming of the Risen Christ or the Beloved Community rather than experiencing it.
I think this may be why the Christmas and Easter seasons are so short. They serve as reminders that God’s radical love does break into our lives and communities…but often in momentary and unexpected ways. God comes to us as the infant born to a family suffering from displacement and forced migration. The great message of hope and deliverance is given to the nomadic (likely dirty and exhausted) shepherds. It is a young girl with a complicated story who carries the salvation of the world in her womb.
A few years ago, a dear friend shared with me the chorus to Leonard Cohen’s song
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.
We live in a broken world, which is why we need Advent and Lent. However, our broken world is full of cracks, and it is in these places, the cracks in the system, the places of both the creative and the mundane resistance, that Christmas resides.
This Christmas season, I am challenged to spend time recognizing and celebrating these “cracks” in order to see the light that is breaking in. We may never know what impact our daily work holds, the power of perseverance in the midst of adversity, or the moment when we will recognize God’s love in action, but when we do catch a glimpse, let us remember to let the light in and savor it.