For Christians, this is the season of Advent. The word adventus in Latin means Coming. A great coming is on the horizon, a great coming is in the air, we are told, an answer to an ancient promise of Emmanuel or God-with-us.
This need not be an exclusively Christian waiting time. After all, in a time of pandemic and in a time of Climate emergency, we are all waiting for a great Coming to arrive—the coming awake and the coming to our senses as a species, the coming to a reckoning with deadening messages, tired slogans, old wars and wasted funding on warfare precipitated by reptilian brain energies and multiplication of fears and bugaboos, projections and scapegoats.
In short, we all yearn for a turn in human history before it is truly too late (and scientists tell us it will be too late in eight short years). A Coming alive; a Coming more honest; a Coming that sheds denial and a consumer economy that thrives on selling addictions that numb our brains and hearts instead of awaken them.
A waiting time like advent is a gestation time, a waiting for something new to be born. To more fully enter into the meaning of Advent we need to quiet down, like the season does (in the northern hemisphere) with its longer nights and bare trees and colder weather and invitations to stay indoors and snuggle and with less partying because of the current pandemic. A little enforced stay-at-home-ness that the pandemic demands of us need not be seen as a trial so much as an invitation to a more contemplative time in anticipation of a great Coming.
Christians are not alone in honoring the Light at this dark time of the year. Hanukkah does that and ancient festivities of yule trees and light at the winter solstice time do that and the Feast of Kwanzaa does that as well.
There is grave danger, I feel, in sentimentalizing advent and Christmas and using these festival occasions to look back exclusively at the birth of Jesus. Jesus was born; he did live; he did teach as a rabbi would; he did overturn frozen values of religion and society; he did pay an ultimate price for doing so.
But honoring his birthday is, in my opinion, not the deeper meaning of Christmas and of its lead-in, Advent. To me, and to many people before me, Christmas is not so much about the birth of the baby Jesus as it is about a birth going on in us. Hopefully. A birth of the Christ in us. (The Buddha Nature; the tselem or image of God in us). That is the Coming we wait for. That is the happening we hope for. Meister Eckhart put it this way seven centuries ago: “What good is it to me if Mary gave birth to the son of God and I don’t give birth to the son of God in my person and my time and my culture?”
to be continued.
What does Advent mean to you? What Great Comings are you hoping for? Working to see happen?
The Coming of the Cosmic Christ: The Healing of Mother Earth and the Birth of a Global Renaissance
In what may be considered the most comprehensive outline of the Christian paradigm shift of our Age, Matthew Fox eloquently foreshadows the manner in which the spirit of Christ resurrects in terms of the return to an earth-based mysticism, the expression of creativity, mystical sexuality, the respect due the young, the rebirth of effective forms of worship—all of these mirroring the ongoing blessings of Mother Earth and the recovery of Eros, the feminine aspect of the Divine.
“The eighth wonder of the world…convincing proof that our Western religious tradition does indeed have the depth of imagination to reinvent its faith.” — Brian Swimme, author of The Universe Story and Journey of the Universe.