Is Advent inconvenient?

By Sister alies therese

If you are awaiting a new adventure, then now is just the time to explore. Often, we get stuck in our routines and simple paths, ministries and works of hope – things we are sure we have to do. Advent, however, is a time of awaiting something new…something that will prick our hearts and open us up for a new and deepening relationship.

Perhaps it was during advent that Grandma Moses began painting? “If I didn’t start painting, I would have raised chickens!” (My Life’s Story) She began painting at an elderly age (like 91 or so) … and painted until she passed on. What did that adventure afford her? Notoriety of course, perhaps a bit of money but likely it opened her heart to beauty, to color, to a new kind of freedom.

Gwendolyn Brooks, an American poet wrote her song “In The Front Yard”: “I’ve stayed in the front yard all my life. I want to peek at the back where it’s rough and untended and hungry weeds grow. A girl gets sick of a rose.” How can anyone get sick of a rose you might ask? Well, despite its beauty, there may be something in the back yard that takes us to the next level.

The coming of Jesus was like that I suspect. Jewish life was such a rose. And then an adventure Mary could not have imagined, Joseph wondered about, and the rest of us have to explore in faith, perhaps a new faith. Who knew? Did every young woman dream of bearing the Messiah? Did Mary? What she was offered in the back yard was well beyond what she imagined. Yet her response to the adventurous offer was … ”I am the servant of the Lord. Let it be done to me as you say.” (Luke 1:38) Her understanding that “nothing is impossible for God” (Luke 1:37) launched her forth … seeking out Elizabeth and being a woman of God through whom God might show Divine favor to others.

Advent can also be a time of disgust, distress and discouragement. Why? Because it is in the darkness for us … a night of inconvenience. A night where there can be a lack of comfort, causing bother. (Webster’s New World Dictionary, 2003) We can be filled with illness, or financial stress or even a lack of faith. How will you replace these “D” words with some “R” words?

Advent causes us to stretch to revival, replenishment and renewal. We are called beyond to relinquish, repurpose and to receive. I’m particularly fond of the call to reconciliation and restoration. The coming of the Infant in the cold night in the cave was proceeded by and advent of centuries, not just four weeks. What was this introduction to the restoration of humanity to look like? Who was it for? Who brought it to the crowds, where would they go to understand?

Not only does the rose take time to flourish, but it is also bounded with thorns and often rather than appreciating it’s beauty, we are pricked and bleed. Those drops of blood disgust us and can cause distress and discouragement. However, if we are willing to learn to live in a more positive way we look to be revived and get on with it!

Advent brings us back to our senses if we let it. Advent brings us back to faith, hope, peace and love … as we walk those weeks of introduction.

Maybe we discover in English poet, Brian Patten’s poem “Interruption at the Opera House” (Selected Poems, page 20, 2007), just how inconvenient things can be if we are not attuned to the ‘rightful owner of the song.’

“At the very beginning of an important symphony, while the rich and famous were settling into their quietly expensive boxes, a man came crashing though the crowds, carrying in his hand a cage in which the rightful owner of the music sat, yellow and tiny and very poor; and taking onto the rostrum this rather timid bird he turned up the microphones, and it sang. ‘A very original beginning to the evening’ said the crowds, quietly glancing at the programs to find the significance of the intrusion …’”

Later in the poem he will express who the song is for and who leaves the hall disinterested and disgusted.
Advent can be a bit like this … inconvenient indeed to my desires to have things, and order my own life, and to listen to the songs that tickle my ears.

Let’s let this Advent be one of “R” words and in a new discovery of the true song in the back yard, the one asking us to take care of each other, to invite the outcast and to allow our own lives to be furnished with a deeper union of joy.


(Sister alies therese is a canonically vowed hermit with days formed around prayer and writing.)