This is one of those weird Advents when the third Sunday of Advent only marks the halfway point to Christmas. Because December 25 is on a Sunday this year, there is a whole week after the fourth Sunday of Advent until Christmas Day. My Advent calendar of words has only 15 completed ornaments of the 28 and yet I lit the third candle on the wreath today. The extra days are good news to me. I have just begun to settle into a daily routine of reading and drawing. Although Advent is a special time of attention and reflection, I also think it the dress rehearsal for how to make room and space for God in my life all year. It takes time to learn to take time. Advent gives me permission to learn how.
There are hints of December, Advent, winter, and Christmas in our house and neighborhood even without my intentional attempts at spiritual discipline and the staging of visual seasonal reminders. The holly in our front yard is full of berries and yesterday a mass of robins ate half of them in two hours. Usually their appearance means there will not be a single berry left when they depart. My interference with clippers in a desperate attempt to salvage some branches may have interrupted their annual feeding frenzy. I expect them to swoop down again soon and finish the job.
Our two Christmas cactuses are covered with buds. The younger one, the eight-year old on the left, has many blossoms and seems in a hurry to get to the finish line. The other, a plant I have had for 45 years, is full of buds, but moseying to maturity in its own time. Both plants seem to know of Advent’s arrival because they start their march to full flower every year at the end of November. It’s almost as if they are accompanying me on the Advent journey and saying, “Make way. Be not afraid. There is hope. Break forth.”