Since I became a mother, I have learned to consider Advent in a way I never grasped before. If Christmas is the season of celebration, Advent is the season of preparation, of anticipation. Who better to teach us than a mother?
Mary, the young girl given the overwhelming task of bringing God’s child into the world, learned in the fullest physical sense the power of making room for God to dwell within. We may not be the physical bearers of Christ, but Mary’s story offers us an invitation to follow her example, to prepare for the arrival of Jesus.
Advent in us begins with the hard inner work of making space for the coming of Jesus. If we are waiting for Jesus to be born, if we are preparing for him along with Mary, what should that spiritual work look like? After all, I don’t wake up on any given Monday of my pregnancy determined to grow a particular organ for my child. I simply live, aware that the changes in me reveal a deeper work beneath my understanding.
Spiritual growth is also far from measurable. But what if this Advent we were to live with a knowing—an awareness—that God is doing something new within us, that we are making space in our lives for Christ?
Of course making space for Jesus is not easy. Bringing forth life never is. It demands we empty ourselves to make room. It means we may need to reevaluate the patterns and commitments in our lives. We may need to sort through the wild busyness of our daily tasks in order to discover what is really necessary, what gives life to us and the people around us, what leads us into God’s presence. We may need to learn how to actually rest.
Perhaps Advent, the busiest season of the year, is also an invitation to take stock of our spiritual health, our priorities. Is it possible to make room for Jesus in the frantic rush of Christmas parties and service projects? Can we calm our mental shopping lists and anxious calendar planning, and ask ourselves if our souls need some rearrangement?
This is part of a longer reflection on the inner work of making space for Jesus this Advent. It's over at The High Calling today.
Photo credit: (18th century, of the Transfiguration church, monastery, Karelia, Russia).
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