Advent Solitude

“Advent begins in the dark…” Fleming Rutledge writes.

Many people imagine “solitude” as a dim place — of loneliness, abandonment, or shame. Loneliness and solitude, however, are not the same. Loneliness is not chosen. Solitude, in the spiritual sense, means choosing time alone with yourself and with God.

Solitude can be risky, though. Whatever is rambling around in the basement of your soul or banging around in the back of your mind will sound louder, in solitude.

But a moment of solitude - taking time to be in your body, to take a breath, look around, remember you’re alive - can also be a moment of awe, peace, or gratitude. For how long? Five minutes? Ten minutes? Thirty is hard. One minute, or even ten seconds, can be enough.

Darkness can be scary, but it can also be a shelter — a place to rest, to hide, or to pray. Here in Indianapolis in the winter, we’re on the western edge of the time zone, so the sun doesn’t rise until almost 8am. It makes for a long, gloomy morning. I’ve tried to make friends with the morning darkness - after I wake up, I sit for a few minutes in our sunroom with the lights off. It gives me a reason to do nothing for a while… except to feel the presence of God and think some thoughts, maybe see a few stars or the moon, before I start the doing of the day.

Advent solitude to me means finding spiritual shelter in moments of darkness, stillness, solitude, and some breathing. Even though Advent is busy, some moments of stopping each day will bring a sense of the holy: a few hiccups of prayer to make room in you for God’s arrival, like tiny string lights against the night.

Two Advent Books I’m Reading

  • All Creation Waits: The Advent Mystery of New Beginnings, by Gayle Boss

    I’m picky about devotionals. There are very few I like, which is part of why I started writing them. This book, however, is not only interesting — like a naturalist teaching you about the winter lives of creatures and critters that live in the woods around her western Michigan home, but with well-constructed sentences, and deeply thoughtful spiritual references. Not just nature-fluff.

  • Summoning Advent Stillness: A Season of Contemplation and Resistance, by Geez Magazine

    Another good one, with a focus on listening, written by a variety of authors associated with the magazine, which describes itself as “for the over-churched, out-churched, un-churched and maybe even the un-churchable.”

One Weird Thing

This is my baby Moses ornament, made at a church craft fair during my internship in Oak Park, in 2004. You take a walnut shell, glue in a scrap of yarn under a scrap of felt and a wooden head with a face, and voila - Moses in the basket. (Click through the link if you want to sob through the “Prince of Egypt” (1998) clip of his mother and sister putting him in the water…)

But this is what I saw at Target the other day. Somehow “Mousie in the Basket”, rather than Moses, while cute…

…is such an empty symbol compared to the tiny Jewish baby whose mother sets him adrift because his life is under threat, who will grow up to free his people from slavery, lead them through the wilderness while listen to them complain constantly, deliver the Torah from God, and then die before he sees the Promised Land?

Yeah, nope.