So come to the pond,
or the river of your imagination,
or the harbor of your longing,
and put your lips to the world.
― Mary Oliver
Every year we celebrate the holy season of Advent, O God. Every year we pray those beautiful prayers of longing and waiting, and sing those lovely songs of hope and promise.
Advent and longing walk hand-in-hand; a season of waiting, watching and longing. Come thou long expected Jesus we sing, with longing as an acknowledged season of the soul. Deep within, we feel the fall forward and the yearning for more, the longing for something deeper and richer, both around and within us. Our soul ripens as we long.
What is the image of soul? In this narrative, a small child in the cradle nestled in the barn. What is an image of heart? Strangers from another country, wandering, following their hearts’ longing; strangers making a pilgrimage to an unknown place beneath a dazzling sea of stars.
At Advent, we seasonally long and wait through our liturgy–our hymns, our prayers, our sermons, our hearts, our being. All inviting us into a certain relationship with the horizon. Isaiah articulates such a longing and vision in chapter 2 and 11 that are part of Advent and invites us to share in that rising sun. He envisions a time when:
God shall judge between nations,
and shall beat their swords into
and their spears into pruning
nation shall not lift up sword
neither shall they learn war
~~Isaiah 2: 4
The wolf shall live with the lamb,
the leopard shall lie down with
the calf and the lion and the
and a little child shall lead them.
The cow and the bear shall graze,
their young shall lie down
And the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp,
and the weaned child shall put
it’s hand on the adder’s den.
They will not hurt or destroy
on all my holy mountain;
for the earth will be full of the
knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.
~~Isaiah 11: 6–9
In these two passages of Isaiah, we hear spirited, prophetic imagination from a place of longing—a yearning for peace.
The story of Mary is a narrative of deep longing; her openness to bare and carry this longing to its full incarnation—the child of promise and possibilities being born, the Christ Child.
Longing during this season of Advent is the transfiguration of aloneness, the cyclical season, the womb of alchemy, the ritualistic recognition of aloneness transformed into longing. It is the defenseless interior core of a person receiving its overdue invitation from the mystery of the universe–the moon, the stars, the night horizon and the great tidal flows of love and life; all are from God. Advent is a sacred season of being and becoming the Oneness of what is! Immanuel, God with us and in us.
In the end, Advent and longing bring us to an edge of knowing ourselves. During this season, if we never look inward at the aloneness and the longing, we tend to become experts at life on the edge, while seldom unlocking what all our seeking and longing mean and carry for us. Advent provides us that season and space to ponder the meaning of what we carry and long for.
Whether pursuing our longing literally or symbolically or some of both, longing is about falling to the center of our longing. Advent invites us to be intentional about the search. This Advent, may we get a deeper glimpse at the center of our longing. At this place, the Christ Child awaits and out of this space, incarnation happens and the divine is born in and through us.
What have we done with the garden we have been given and long for?
There is an infinite moment when everything happens.
Advent is the season of being in that moment, waiting, watching
where everything and nothing happens;
watching for the shoot that grows
out of a mysterious dark place,
behind a thousand images,
above a thousand thoughts,
beneath a thousand words,
a world quakes,
out of the non-happening,
the world trembles
and everything changes, quietly.
Agree or disagree, you are invited into the conversation.