This past Sunday, I provided leadership at a Christian church in the rural community. It was the first Sunday of Advent and each year as I grow and explore my life, Advent takes on a deeper and more profound experience.
This season of the church has been overlooked by those who are not in the church, yet it can be so healing and curative in these troubled times: a reset, a new beginning, and a wonder to say the least. It may be seen as a religious event but I am seeing it beginning to be realized across the land.
What truly is “advent”?
Advent is first seen as a time of waiting. The Latin word “adventus” means, in English, to arrive or arriving. Advent is to arrive while it is set against waiting. In Greek, the word is “parousia” which directly translated means present, presence, coming to a place. Both words refer to our timing in the moment and the collective being of here.
The timing of advent also celebrates the return to the light, a lead-up to the change of direction Mother Earth takes. As we begin this journey we live through the longest night each year on Dec. 21. This night is when it is darkest and lasts the longest and makes us closer to the north pole. A time when the earth is at its peak of distance from the sun to the north pole. It is a reminder of how some of us can be living in the darkness of the north pole on Dec. 21 while others are living their lives on the equator with equal light and darkness, unaware. The south at the same time is rejoicing in light abundant. How reflective this understanding can be.
The fact the earth can experience the longest day of light, opposite the longest stretch of darkness within the same hours, reminds us for every darkness somewhere there is light. Each week, I suffer along with those suffering and then I find joy with those celebrating. It is a hard place to live at times because it feels disrespectful to those suffering, others are finding joy.
How does this work in our human existence? It works because out of joy comes sorrow and through sorrow, we find joy. In the darkness, the tiniest of light can be welcomed. If you were in an arena and there was a candle, you could find the light if you were looking for it. The challenge is we become immersed in the darkness, the darkest night, and forget to look for the flame of light. This time of celebration of advent and the pending birth, in the Christian faith, of hope is that tiny flame in an arena of darkness. In the most remote and unlikely places, the light will come. Through the womb of the wonder, we are given a glimpse of new life, in a bed made of hay, overseen by a star guiding us to this place.
There have been times when you may have been in the darkest of places wondering how you will find your way out. In a hole deep in your heart that feels lost and lonely, you seek to find a way out. It is through the darkness we must stumble to find the light. When we sit down and bury our eyes in our hands, lamenting and trolling the gloom and the murk, the light must wait. Light can only be seen when we choose to look for it. Hope springs from a decision to move through the darkness looking for light. Sometimes the light comes slowly like the dawn of a new day in the north on a cold winter’s night and other times it is as quick as someone flicking the switch. However, when it comes, know it does come when we are looking for it.
Advent, arriving and presence, is also a time of waiting. It is through waiting we learn how to be present to ourselves and to others. Our human babies take nine months to form, elephants take up to two years, giraffes, 15 months. The moon circles us in 28 days and the earth takes the time it takes to rotate around the sun. None of these things can be rushed or changed or altered by our human hands. They belong to a source that is beyond our human consciousness of understanding. They belong in a trust and a faith that all is well somewhere in life. A tree is sleeping now, and we have faith it will have leaves again. A tulip bulb lies dormant in the earth waiting for the time to bloom. The longest night is coming, and we must wait for it to arrive only to know the light will come again.
Do we wonder why the earth is on a tilt? I like to think the great energy is keeping us a little off-balance to remind us how we are in relationship to the whole. Our source of light, as constant as it is, still is a star that could burn out any day. The light is here today, based on our perspective from the earth, only to return tomorrow as we rotate into a new day. Darkness to light, back to darkness again, reminds us to go with the flow and wait. Until our star fully burns itself out there is always hope in the dawn of a new day, a new season, and a new rotation of life. Hold that thought as you face your own existence here on this planet.
As I celebrated Advent with a wonderful group of people on Sunday morning, we lit the candle of hope! We talked about trees and life and the upcoming birth of a baby that changed the views of so many. That baby brought light and love to the world for anyone who wanted to look for that light. In all faith traditions, the light has come, if only we look to find it. The eight days of Hanukkah started Nov.28 and ends Dec. 6. This festival of lights, the eight-day Jewish festival, marks victory when they celebrate the lighting each night.
Regardless of your tradition may you find hope, peace, joy and love this holiday season. As December launches and we count down the days to close off 2021 may you choose to light a candle in your life. Find the glow, lift your chin, and look for the light on the horizon or wait for someone to flick the switch, knowing that on Dec. 22 the light begins to return slowly to our midst. This season of waiting may you be pregnant with possibility and love. Birth from your own womb the future you are meant to have. A future filled with the joy of the season no matter your tradition.
Cynthia Breadner is a grief specialist and bereavement counsellor, a soul care worker and offers specialized care in Spiritually Integrated Psychotherapy with special attention as a cognitive behavioral therapy practitioner and trauma incident resolution facilitator. She volunteers at hospice, works as a LTC chaplain and is a death doula, assisting with end-of-life care for client and family. She is the mother part of the #DanCynAdventures duo and practices fitness, health and wellness. She is available remotely by safe and secure video connections, if you have any questions contact her today! CynthiaBreadner@gmail.com breakingstibah.com