I am not Christian, but I love the teachings of Jesus and Christianity. My favorite (and sometimes most dreaded) time of year is Advent, these weeks leading up to said birth of Jesus. No one really knows when the man was born, or even has proof he ever existed – these things don’t really matter, however, because the example of his life and the stories that surround him are alive and well, and not going anywhere.
Advent is the time of year we are asked to soften ourselves: turn inward, deepen our reflection and solitude – in other words, be quiet. Think about life – how strange, beautiful, terrifying, and heart-breaking it is. Cry tears of both grief and gratitude (this is why I can dread it, even as surrendering to weeping is such a relief). It’s a coming of terms with the past year, and what a year it was.
We do this quietude in preparation for the return of the light. For Christians, that’s symbolized in the birth of Jesus. For others, pagan, agnostic, or otherwise, it’s the literal return of longer days at the Solstice.
And so we prepare for this hope, this great hope after such a mind-blowing year – that next year will be better, of course, but more than this. That we can learn from all shit – how not to take one another for granted, to treasure every breath we have, and to embody the people we were meant to be in this life: to give to the poor, draw the marginalized to the center, and be of service in any way, that we may be blessings to ourselves and others. So that when it comes our time to die, we can look back on our lives and be glad we lived that way.
We all deserve to have dignity in this life, and a chance to live to our fullest. And so, my friends . . . soften yourselves, imagine, dream, grieve, and prepare for the light.