The hallways and doors to Advent are simultaneously bright and dark. There is a neon quality to the light of Advent’s dark blue which seems to go with none of the Christmas decorations. And perhaps that is they way of it. The throbbing longing for God to be among us is neither joyful nor resigned, neither red nor green.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my new green fleece footie pajamas, covered as they are with red candy canes and linked as they are with my new red Santa hat which falls to a majestic length down to my knees. I LOVE Christmas. Really. I do. I love Sinatra Christmas music, candy, cognac-soaked fruit cake covered in marzipan and royal icing, stockings, crispy goose-skin, clove-studded oranges, The Grinch – I love it all.
But running parallel to the joyfulness of Christmas parties, decorations and terrible sweaters, is a sort of spooky mystery which the Advent liturgical season affords. A season of both mindfulness and of longing, it has long been characterized by the two colors purple and midnight-blue. Both colors evoke that pre-dawn color of the sky in which all of nature asks God’s permission to exist and in which, after the slightest pause, God so grants life for yet another day. Advent is not as much about us as Advent is about God. Though the temptation to make it about us is always its greatest threat.
For me, prayer and meditation in Advent takes a toggle to the right and becomes less like a series of brightly-lit rooms, and more like a fun-house mirror hall or this image of an ice-lined hallway to one of my favorite Vodka bars in Europe. Little is clear and yet it is not foggy like Lent can be nor bright like Epiphany or Easter can be. It is not windy like Pentecost nor fragrant as in the feral seasons between seasons. Advent is a liminal space – a space between spaces – a vestibule of sorts between doorways in which to pause and wonder at the majesty of A God who’s eye is the one through which I am seeing the coming.
The eye with which I see God is God’s eye seeing me. Meister Eckhart