Dearest monks, artists, and pilgrims,
Advent is my favorite liturgical season of the year. Images of waiting, darkness, and birthing make my soul sing. We are each given time and space to grow more welcoming to unknowing, where so much promise and possibility dwell. During Advent we honor a God who is far beyond our own imaginations and who calls us into the fullness of our own horizons.
The 17th century German mystic Angelus Silesius wrote, “I must be the Virgin and give birth to God.” He describes the call of this time: to birth the holy in the midst of our lives, wherever we find ourselves. This is not something that waits until we have more time or space or money. We birth the holy right here, right now.
Birthing is a messy process with lots of unknowns along the way. Birthing the holy demands that we release control and let the journey take us where it will. This is a practice of cultivating trust in the organic unfolding of my life. If I make space to listen to the deep desires of my heart and I follow those, not knowing exactly where they will take me, I find myself being led to beautiful and exhilarating landscapes.
We hear of “birthing pains” because there is a physical and spiritual stretching apart as we make way for unleashing new life into the world. The real adventure of life begins when I release my own plans and allow myself to birth what is being brought forth within me.
During this time that we wait for God’s coming enfleshed, I pay close attention to my dreams, those nighttime visions that come to show me something new. An angel appeared in a dream to Joseph to tell him to wed Mary even though she was already pregnant. I listen for what holy invitations are being whispered to my own heart that might seem hard to believe in the scrutiny of daylight.
God comes into the world through dreams of daring to break through perceived boundaries. We need the night vision of Advent to receive them.
May you be blessed with the illumination of holy darkness in the days ahead. May Christmas arrive as gift of unexpected surprise.
With great and growing love,
Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, REACE
Photo: © Christine Valters Paintner
PS – We will be taking a short break from the weekly and daily emails for the next couple of weeks for a time of rest, stillness, and sabbatical. See you again on January 3rd.