This is the time of shortened days and long winter nights, of snuggling deep within the dark and waiting for the turn of the winter solstice. It’s also Advent, another waiting for the Light to come. What is happening while we wait? What will be unveiled in the light? Waiting is truly an adventure.
Sometimes an Advent adventure shows up when it is least expected. This evening I write from Williamsburg, the famous 18th century village in Virginia where 21st century visitors go to learn history of our country.
A rare Advent snow has completely blanketed historic Williamsburg. Snow fell heavily all day, and this evening Williamsburg, all decorated for Christmas and with snow draping its small, trim houses and shops, and its large mansions, is stunningly beautiful. Burdened boxwood and pine trees bow gravely to each other. Horse droppings on the street are buried now under a half foot of snow. Pristine flakes continue to whirl, adding layer upon layer, covering the historical markers, the walls of the Palace, the hat and cloak of the last interpreter walking down the street on his way home.
What a surprising Advent adventure! Tramping through the snow, I laughed with delight, even after I discovered my boots leaked. Pelted by huge wet flakes, we explored the Palace maze, exchanged warm greetings with other intrepid history buffs, and stopped to warm up in the blacksmith’s and shoemaker’s shops.
Today I was thoroughly awake. I was awake to this place, this unusual day, this present snowy miracle. Today I remembered how easily I forget to live in the present tense and be alive to the present moment. Even at home, in ordinary, gray winter days, I could be more alive to the day and look for the moments of miracle.
Though Advent suggests a waiting experience in contrast to active adventure, both words come from a common Latin root. Both Advent and adventure announce that something is on its way. Something is forming, and beginning to show itself. I cannot force it or push it along. In this holiday season, it is easy to get caught up in pushing it along, in preparations of hospitality and gifting and celebration, in all the work of making it happen. And we might miss the present, the miracle already happening in our midst.
We cannot force the adventure into being born before its time. We cannot know the adventure before it arrives. Adventurous waiting is alive to the unknown. The child, the calling, the mysterious tug of the heart, the unexpected snowfall. Something is coming.
So we wait, awake and alive to the present season. We offer an adventurous and willing spirit ready to be surprised and challenged. We offer our “yes” because we too are invited to be born, formed and reformed. God is not done with us yet. It’s the greatest Advent adventure of them all—becoming.