HELLO!!! It's been so long. I think about this blog often and have 5 different post ideas sitting in my iPhone notes at any given time, but no time to sit and write! I took a minute to update my favorite blogs, websites, and Instagram profiles on the 'Resources' tab, so check it out.
It is the second week of Advent, and I have only forgotten to do my advent devotional twice. *insert sarcastic thumbs up here* I've also been engaged for 8 months! There is less than 300 days to go until our September 2019 wedding.
Even though it feels like the longest waiting period of my life, I'm also aware of how short and unique a season it is for me and Patrick. We will be a married couple for 60+ years, God willing, but this year and a half is the only time we will be an engaged couple. That is crazy!
Let me be, hopefully not the first, to wish you a Happy Advent! I love this season. Luckily, my current roommates love it, too. We have at least 8 nativity scenes around our house, an Advent wreath, a Christmas tree, garlands, lights, you name it. I really don't like the color purple (sorry JMU friends... the truth had to come out sometime), but seeing our church decked out in its richness alongside boughs of dark winter greenery is amazing.
A little background-- Advent is the season of 4 weeks leading up to Christmas, as well as the "Catholic New Year." And no, we don't actually think that Jesus was born on December 25th, it's just the day chosen to celebrate that event. Advent shares some characteristics with the liturgical season of Lent, the waiting period of 40 days for Easter that happens in early spring.
Lenten waiting has a sadness and a dread that Advent does not. In Lent, we know we are receiving the greatest gift of all in Jesus' resurrection, but only after 40 days of suffering and two intense days of fasting, not to mention the emotional pain that is Good Friday. However, spiritual growth is huge during this time. The color purple is used in Lent to symbolize suffering and penance.
On the flip side, Advent is a joyful period of preparation and waiting. We experience the wonder of what is unfolding through Jesus' birth through scripture and festive traditions. Though Lent and Advent have very different feels and intentions, they both are waiting periods for a bigger holiday, and they share the liturgical color purple, something I've always found interesting.
During Advent, purple represents the royalty that is coming in Christ the King, sometimes swapped out for royal blue. We are preparing for the miracle of life, the joy of salvation, the wonder of universal royalty, the glorious mystery of God's plan for the Holy Family revealed, and ultimately His plan for us. It's the simultaneous celebration of the divine and the humanity here on Earth.
I am realizing more and more the parallels between engagement and Advent this year. Patrick and I are making preparations of house and self, waiting joyfully and childlike (and, sure, a little nervously) for the mystery and wonder of the moments to come. It's not unlike the preparations I am now making for Christmas. We hope that God will work miracles of life and love through the offerings of these two ordinary people as He did through His servants Mary and Joseph.
In September, Patrick and I will give our consent and make vows to God and each other, and then there will be one moment in the Mass when we will miraculously go from engaged to married. Our new life together starts in that one moment. When the Gabriel the Archangel appeared to Mary, she gave her fiat, her consent, and then there is one moment of immaculate conception, changing her path and the path of the world forever. A life came to be in that one moment.
In another miraculous moment, Patrick and I will receive Jesus for the first time as one flesh, instead of individually (Mark 10: 7-9). On the first Christmas, there was one moment when Mary receives Jesus in her arms for the first time, instead of in her womb.
Mary had little else beside her pregnant belly to remind her of what was to come. She only knew she would give birth to God's son and name Him Jesus. I have my engagement ring, sparkling against my ordinariness, constantly a reminder of something beautiful coming in the way of marriage. These visible signs of hope are on my heart this season.
It's a hard thing to accept, that only God knows what is to come. He knew when I met Patrick 4 years ago at our campus ministry that he would end up proposing to me. On a mountain. Before he graduated college. Like a crazy person. God also knew that I would accept the proposal from the heart to my head at age 22, fellow crazy person, and here we are. Who knows what else is already in place, and what our hearts are being softened and shaped for?
It's not that Patrick and I anticipate everything to be easy or perfect, but that our future will be filled with the four words of Advent: hope, peace, joy, and love.
I am in awe of God's timing, my unexpected future spouse, this sweet season of being engaged, the season of Advent, the mystery of to whom we belong, the miracle of life, the bravery of a 15 year old girl and her spouse over 2000 years ago, and everyone who has chosen Jesus since his birth.
So, thank you, Lord! Thank you for my new life in you, for the new life the Patrick and i will share together, and for this new year. Most of all, thank you for the gift of working in ways that I don't understand. It makes this all-too-practical gal pause in childlike wonder.
“Into this world, this demented inn
in which there is absolutely no room for him at all,
Christ comes uninvited." ~ Thomas Merton