I’ve been quiet this Advent.
Last year I blogged every day, purposefully, because blogging had been such a big part of my life for so many years, and I think I wanted to prove to myself that even though many changes were occurring, I was still the same person.
But I’m not the same person, exactly, or rather not the person I thought I was.
Which is okay. It’s really quite wonder-filled, the recognition that the stories I’ve been telling myself about myself may not have been all there was to know. I’ve been evaluating, for instance, my attachment to being the person my mother wanted me to be, and how that fierce clinging shut out possibilities for self-expression, for relationship, even for joy.
And it’s not that I would want to go back and live it all over again differently, but I am grateful for seeing things from a different perspective. I’m glad to know myself a little better, a process I expect will go on for the rest of my life. I’ve been quiet this year because I haven’t had to work so hard to find the wonder or the joy or the love of Advent. I haven’t had to remind myself they exist, somewhere.
Last year, I pushed myself through Advent and Christmas, busy in my new ministry, determined to “make” it a good Christmas for my children to make up for the way our lives had been disrupted by disappointment and grief. I strove to find some sense of Christmas for myself, some sliver of hope or joy to carry me through the great expenditure of energy required for a pastor at this time of year. I wrote over and over again last December about how the love my friends showed in a time of difficulty was helping me hold it together, and that was true. But the person who made it Christmas for me was my son, Peter, who took me to hear the Boston Pops Christmas concert. The blurry pictures we took that day contain the feeling of wonder awoken in me again and carried home that night, by bus, in a snowstorm. Even in the darkest time, there was some light.
I was amazed.
The rest of Christmas was easy. I’m thankful for the gift Peter gave me, for its origin in his thoughtfulness and his knowledge of my childhood dreams. I hope I’m doing the same for them, listening to their inclinations rather than imposing my own, encouraging their wholeness rather than imploring them to fit into particular roles.
What I’ve discovered in the past year is that I can do the same for myself. I can listen to my inclinations and encourage my own wholeness, rather than forcing myself to bend into a shape that is not mine. And that is a wonder, indeed.