Sunday, 27 November 2016, is the first day of the Advent season, which coincides with the annual peak of darkness. The Sun is lower during these days, creating longer and higher shadows, which reach out to the sky.
The paradox of Advent is that we can find the greatest luminosity in the darkest and least likely places. Nazareth, which is now a holy place, was in biblical times an obscure location, where nobody could think of finding anything valuable. “Can anything good could come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46).
We often fail to acknowledge and embrace the greatest blessings simply because we assume we cannot find them in certain places. Those places, far from being distant, are often just round the corner.
One of such places is the shadow side, whatever we are afraid and ashamed of, and repress or deny in ourself and others. This is the realm of the unknown, a dark tunnel. When we manage to honestly acknowledge this tunnel, it inevitably, yet unexpectedly, leads us to its creator: the Light. This is the trust and patient hope of the Advent.
“The descent into the shadow is inescapable and essential to the authentic Birth. It is one of the holiest of mysteries, the place where the greatest treasures are to be found. When you discover the diamond hidden at the heart of this paradox, it irradiates your whole being with an ever-expanding joy, wisdom and hope.” (Andrew Harvey, A Guide to Sacred Activism, p. 190)
“Patience, capacity, or tolerance is the helpful attitude toward accepting and working with the difficulties of existence. Basically, patience is simple; it means waiting. No matter how good our conduct or practice, expecting or grabbing at some reward or result is a hindrance. When we do our best without any particular expectation, we can actually be ready for whatever happens. Patience is flexible, open, and ready to respond to the world before us.” (Taigen Daniel Leighton)
Image: XV century painting of comet Halley