Why Advent Beginnings?
I’ve always preferred Advent beginnings over New Year’s beginnings. Celebrating the change of the calendar year with resolutions and ambitious commitments is the more popular way to go, but it always seemed to me that New Year’s is about breaking with the past and starting anew.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes we need to break with our past in order to move forward.
But more often, we need to find a way to incorporate what has come before into new growth and direction. That is where Advent is so helpful.
Advent is simultaneously an ending and a beginning. The word “advent” means arrival or coming, and in this case it refers specifically to the coming of Christ. Both comings of Christ. Christ has come and Christ will come again. The gospel readings of Advent begin with an adult Jesus talking about the coming of the Son of Man (commonly known as the end times) and end with Jesus’s own birth. The gospel readings move us backward and forward at the same time. Advent beginnings are advent endings.
I like the fact that there’s no clear line between beginning and ending, new and old, yet it’s not exactly a repeating circle, either. Each time Advent comes around again it’s something new: a culmination of what has been and anticipation of what’s to come. And each year it’s different.
Why This Blog?
I’ve been an Oblate for a little more than five years, though I’d been attempting to incorporate elements of Benedictine spirituality into my life for more than a decade before that. One of the things I’ve always lacked in my practice is accountability. Sure, I go to my monthly Oblate meetings at Glastonbury Abbey and I take personal retreats there as often as I can, but I find that’s not enough.
That’s where this blog comes in. I’ve often reflected in writing on Lectio Divina or the Rule*, but I’ve never shared those written reflections with anyone. Also, it’s too easy to skip a meditation or three and fall out of the practice. My hope is that writing this blog will help to focus my practice. Yes, it’s a new endeavor, but it’s not a break from my past. It’s a culmination of where I’ve already been and anticipation of where I want to go.
Wanting to deepen my relationship with God should be enough by itself, but it’s not. Saint Benedict wrote his Rule for people who live in community. I don’t live with other Benedictines, or even see any more than on a monthly basis, and I feel that lack. So I hope to build an online community with weekly blog posts, where we can share insights and challenges and provide support for one another. [EDIT: I have changed to biweekly blog posts in order to keep my schedule more manageable.]
I hope you’ll follow this blog and find it helpful in your own journey. I don’t pretend to have all the answers, or even to be a particularly good Benedictine. But I am who God made me to be, and all I can do is strive to be that person, in this place, in this time, to the best of my ability. If anything in this post or any other speaks to you in any way, please share in the comments. I’d love to hear from you!
May God be with you in your own Advent beginnings!
*If this is all new to you, you can find information on The Rule of Saint Benedict here.