Advent comes quietly every year, whether we're ready or not. This year, with so many days between Thanksgiving and the advent of Advent, I was actually ready for it today, in all its quiet invitation. Yesterday, as I was describing some of the complexities of life to a friend, she commented that I would have a very Adventy Advent this year. I laughed and knew what she meant: that Advent draws us into its questions and its waiting and its uncertainty and that some years that resonates more than others.
This year, I'm asking the Christ of Advent to guide me into taking some steps new steps toward simplicity and purpose and clarity and generosity. Fortunately, I have some seasoned companions on the way.
First, there is Advent Conspiracy, that annual call to exchange materialism for generosity. (Did you know that for just a fraction of what Americans spend on Christmas in one year, we could provide clean water for the whole world?) We watched it at church this morning, but if you haven't seen the Advent Conspiracy video, you can watch it and several other good videos on the AC website.
Also, there is the thoughtful lifestyle of my friend JTH, which he describes on his own blog here. He has actually gone into training to resist the siren song of consumerism; I've decided to copy a couple of his practices myself. I really love the idea of growing spiritually by actually taking on the spiritual practices and, well, practicing them. (I've long thought I'm a Methodist at heart.)
There's Ruth Haley Barton, over at the Transforming Center, who has this to write about Advent this year and will add to it every week until Christmas.
Maybe you aren't part of a tradition that observes Advent. No worries; me neither. But the beauty of preparing for Christmas and the challenge of doing it subversively, below the chaos of the culture, in the quiet places that really matter . . . any of us can embrace that.