Advent 22: What Are You Waiting For?

When I walk a labyrinth, I like to take my time in the center, to pause and rest, to give space in the holy hush between in-breath and out-breath for something new to enter. In this December labyrinth, we’ve walked through increasingly dark passages, exploring the shadows, examining our own little lights, reflecting on the interplay between darkness and light.

Today the planet begins her inward spin again, back toward equilibrium, away from the outer point of our elliptical whirl. And there’s a feeling–much more poetic than scientific–of pause here at the edges. Just the slightest sensation of being between.

Breathing, like labyrinth-walking, is a steady in and out process. And like the labyrinth, it isn’t necessarily a simple in-and-turn-and-out journey. Between each breath is a little doorway into a room between breaths, a space where something new may enter.

And so, in this moment on the planetary spin, this space between breaths, this pause, this doorway, this room, we sit and we wait for what is to come. Here we sit within Time out of Time. The wait for Sunreturn is over, but Advent continues.

In the Christian tradition, we are waiting for the Child of Light to appear, for the angels to shine forth and announce a Birth. We ask ourselves what this welcome means. Is it a mystical moment, only an inner dawning? Is it a psycho-socio-political moment when we consider what it means to welcome the ones who are caught on the margins without hope of help? Is it simply the re-telling of an ancient tale? What are we waiting for?

Here in this dark, quiet room in the space between breaths, we have time to consider what it is we are waiting for. It’s not about the urgency of a child’s breathless anticipation of presents and play. We prepare these inner rooms, watch our dreams and visions, notice the way the breath moves in and out, and pauses. We wait.


Gratitude List:
1. Oyster Stew at the Town Hall Restaurant, where my father used to take my grandmother. I felt like Grandma was there, too. Even Santa stopped by, and gave us all candy canes.
2. Watching my brother teach my son to play guitar. Watching my nephew painting with my son. Playing games together, eating together. I am so grateful to be raising my children in these circles of village.
3. The twinkle and sparkle of lights.
4. The space between breaths.
5. Walking and waiting with you.

May we walk (and wait) in Beauty!

Into the Dark, December 12

Every year at this time, I feel the anxiety and restlessness begin to rise within me, and the cold settles into my bones. Every year, I need to consciously ease my spirit into the season. This year, from the beginning of December until Epiphany, I will set it down here on the blog. May we journey into the darkness with intention and tenderness.

One of my favorite quotations from anywhere comes from Mary Oliver’s “Sometimes.” Actually, several of my favorite quotations come from that poem, but this one is for today:

     “Instructions for living a life.
     Pay attention.
     Be astonished.
     Tell about it.”

This might be just the thing I need right now, in the endurance time, in the waiting time, in the polar opposite moments of silence and frenzy that mark this season. In this holding pattern where I find myself in the shortening days, in this time of focusing inward, it can be hard to keep my eyes up and out. But this, too, is the work of this season. This is why I am quieting myself. This is why I am breathing extra carefully and intentionally: So I can look around, and see what I can see.

I think I am quoting the Bible here: “Watch. Wait. For the hour is at hand.” Today’s word will be watch. Notice. Pay attention. And then be astonished. Today’s word has homework. What will I see, if I train my senses outward with just a little more intention than usual? And how will that affect my balance in this time–to keep part of my gaze focused inward, while part of my gaze is focused more intentionally outward?



Gratitude List:
1. The music program at my school
2. My parents
3. Watching and waiting
4. Scarves
5. Chocolate

May we walk in Beauty!


“Living is a form of not being sure, not knowing what next or how. The moment you know how, you begin to die a little. The artist never entirely knows. We guess. We may be wrong, but we take leap after leap in the dark.”
—Agnes De Mille


“But in a society seeking sameness and assimilation, while fleeing its most painful secrets, creative people are inevitably marginalized or even punished… Artists often raise the questions society seeks to mask and in doing so provoke its ire.” —Carol Becker, in “Surpassing the Spectacle”


“Write it on your heart
that every day is the best day in the year.
He is rich who owns the day, and no one owns the day
who allows it to be invaded with fret and anxiety.
Finish every day and be done with it.
You have done what you could.
Some blunders and absurdities, no doubt crept in.
Forget them as soon as you can, tomorrow is a new day;
begin it well and serenely, with too high a spirit
to be cumbered with your old nonsense.
This new day is too dear,
with its hopes and invitations,
to waste a moment on the yesterdays.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson


“To live in this world
you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it
against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.”
—Mary Oliver