Several years ago — in the period of my life known as PK, or Pre-Kids — I bought the book Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas. I remember being intrigued by its format; it has one spiritual reading a day, for every day from late November through Epiphany.Â Â The readings are from a variety of authors.Â There are religious heavyweights like Thomas Merton and Dorothy Day and C.S. Lewis, as well as more “literary” pieces relating to the season (poetry by Sylvia Plath and T.S. Eliot, to name two). When I read it four years ago, I enjoyed the book.Â It gave me some good food for thought during the Advent season.
Now, I’m re-reading it.Â What was an enjoyable experience four years ago is now a much more meaningful one.Â Â I think the difference is this: I now have kids.Â My time to sit and read and pray is much more limited than it used to be … which renders these quiet moments with the book all the more precious.
Admittedly, I haven’t managed to read every day’s entry (croupy baby, papers to grade, etc.).Â But I am doing pretty well about carving out some time to read and to read slowly … to focus on each word and image and to think about the amazing beauty of this season of waiting.Â Â Every author relates to Advent and the Incarnation in his or her own unique way.
Just to share one example: Henri Nouwen, in the entry for November 28,Â says the following about Mary, Elizabeth, and Zechariah, all of whom, at the start of Luke’s gospel, are waiting:
“People who wait have received a promise that allows them to wait.Â They have received something that is at work in them, like a seed that has started to grow.Â This is very important.Â We can only really wait if what we are waiting for has already begun for us.Â So waiting is never a movement from nothing to something.Â It is always a movement from something to something more.Â Zechariah, Mary, and Elizabeth were living with a promise that nurtured them, that fed them, and that made them able to stay where they were.Â And in this way, the promise itself could grow in them and for them.”Â (Henri Nouwen, from The Weavings Reader, excerpted in Watch for the Light)
Lovely, isn’t it?Â I’m so glad I rediscovered this book.Â My soul was thirsty for this.