John 1:6-8, 19-28
Many of us depart from our homes in the dark and return in the dark. We end feeling a bit disoriented by 5:00 pm because it is as dark outside as it at midnight. We can feel ourselves fighting against the reality that, for a brief few months, the darkness is around us more than the light.
This movement toward and through winter is an essential part of the cycle of life. It feels barren and inhospitable, but it is also the necessary element to a blossoming and fruitful spring and summer. It calls for patience, slowing down, and resting in hope for the new life of spring is going on all around us in creation.
The question for us is: will we allow it to happen within us?
This advent season we are invited to enter the darkness of our own lives and the common life of our political, social, and religious realities. It is a season of noticing where light is absent or overcome by darkness, even if only for a moment. We are called to notice how we sit within the division among our society, how we participate in creating anger and blame in our personal and social lives, how we participate in the destruction of our environment and the systems of nature, and how we turn from God rather than to God.
Advent is a season for being in the dark and taking notice AND knowing that the greater reality is the light of God’s love and vision saturating and changing the darkness within and around us.
John the Baptist knows this at the core of his being. His life is the personification of Advent; a voice crying out in the darkness of God’s great light and love promised to us. John speaks not of a distant light and love but proclaims the nearness of God, the accessibility of God, the call of God to us to come near. He understands the realness of darkness, and he knows that from it life will be called forth. John knows the barrenness of spiritual winter and points us to the new life found in the one whom we call Jesus.
As we prepare for Christmas on all the levels we celebrate, let us be mindful that an essential element of the season is knowing the darkness that surrounds us. Whether it be political, social, spiritual, or emotional darkness, we must know it, so that we can truly welcome the birth of God, who is light and love as the transformative reality at the center of our lives.
Praise be God who speaks an invitation to live through the wisdom of creation, the yearning within our hearts, and the innocence and vulnerability of the newborn!
Mary Feigen, Dominican Sister of Hope