I, like many people, am not very good at waiting, and so the season of Advent has always troubled me somewhat. Advent is waiting: waiting in expectation for the birth of the Messiah, for the birth of hope, for our means of redemption and renewal.
I came relatively recently to the celebration of Advent, having grown up in a faith tradition that doesn't follow the liturgical calendar. This year marks my 3rd Advent celebration, and while I love the tradition of Advent, and the symbolism, and the slowness, I have never been very good at staying grounded in the moment of expectation rather than looking forward to the fulfillment.
This year, though, I find myself in the very unique position of expecting a baby very close to Christmas day. We now know that he will arrive on the 15th, but being in the last weeks of pregnancy during Advent is definitely fitting. By this stage, I am, of course, impatient to meet this baby I've been nurturing for 8 months, but I am equally ready to have my body back. The pains and discomforts of late pregnancy cannot be overstated. Back aches, leg cramps, fitful sleep, bladder leaks, inability to move, exhaustion.... the last few weeks are just miserable, and by this time, I just want it to be over. But the baby isn't ready, and until he is, I have to wait. There aren't any other choices.
Every year, I hear people bemoan the busy-ness of the holiday season. Decorating and parties and shopping and church events... it can be overwhelming. I try hard to fight the culture of busy-ness in our family, at Christmas and throughout the year. So this year, with Joel's impending arrival, we decided to really slow down and focus on our family. We are doing a little homemade gift package for our parents and for Greg's sister, and that is the extent of our gift-giving this year. I don't want to worry about buying the right thing for each of a list of people, and I don't want to worry about how to pay for it all and prepare for a baby at the same time. So I'm not. As to events, I am participating in the things I choose, as much as I am physically able, and I am not worrying about the rest.
All of these circumstances together have led me to begin Advent with a strange sense of calm. Freedom from these worries has given me space to breathe, and I hope it will be a richer season of reflection as a result.