candleOn dark gray days, I’m glad Advent is in winter. Darkness is an Advent theme, as are waiting and longing. These themes resonate with me.

For about a year and a half I’ve been in a season of mid-life struggle. I’ve longed for something more than carpool, grocery runs and helping my kids with their homework. I’ve experienced an ache in my heart for something new–a new passion or purpose to get me out of bed in the morning.

That longing hasn’t been fully satisfied yet.

Mid-life is often a season of waiting, I’ve heard. Waiting for the “what’s next” to unfold. Sue Monk Kidd, in her book When the Heart Waits, likens this season to the cocooning stage of the caterpillar. It must wait in the darkness of the cocoon before it can emerge in its new and beautiful form. Waiting in the darkness, cocooning, is part of the process of transformation.

when the heart waitsOf course mid-life isn’t the only season of waiting. A mother of young children may yearn for the day when she can have time to pursue her own interests and passions, or simply sleep and have uninterrupted conversations.

A father may long for the high stress work project to end so he can finally be relieved of the pressure and be more present to his family. Empty nesters may tire of waiting for the ache to go away as they endure the deafening silence of an empty home.

Some churches have a tradition of waiting until Christmas Day to sing the celebratory Christmas carols like Joy to the World and O Come All Ye Faithful. Until then, they keep to the contemplative waiting spirit of Advent by singing songs of waiting, yearning and longing like O Come, O Come Emmanuel and Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silent. I like that.

My 8-year-old son’s favorite Christmas carols have always been the ones in minor keys – We Three Kings, What Child is This, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen. He’s always been sensitive to music and I think that even his young, innocent heart intuitively knows that these songs express a deep longing and desire for God. A longing that is not yet completely fulfilled.

Do Advent themes of darkness, waiting and longing resonate with you?