Advent or Otherwise

I am still adjusting to the changing patterns of light, compliments of daylight savings time: Beautiful, slow and distant in the morning, short and sweet in the evening. For as much as my body is fighting it, I can feel my soul inching closer to that first Sunday of Advent, almost begging for the first flicker of light. I’ve been sitting quite a bit with Saint Teresa of Calcutta’s words, ‘Come be my light’ through these past few tumultuous weeks. As beautiful a season as Advent is, I know I need not wait for a change in the Liturgical year to signal my deep need for the Light of Christ to dispel the darkness at hand—and yet it is so rich.

Growing up in Minnesota there was a regional photographer whose work was sort of iconic in DNR offices, Girl Scout camps and classrooms, alike. He was a retired National Geographic photographer who had taken to photographing wildlife in Northern Minnesota as a hobby. His most famous project is called ‘Chased by Light.’ This has since been published into a book, but it is his self-imposed challenge to take one picture a day for a summer in the boundary waters and the photos are stunning!

I also think he is on to something, spiritually.

This idea of chasing and being chased by light has captivated my imagination lately. Because we are far less likely to see the light when we are not looking for it—longing for it, waiting for it, particularly in the times we see so much less of it. Why not chase it? Why not position ourselves as closely as possible to the bringer of light, who is already with us, chasing us and not yet come? Advent or otherwise.

I think what I most appreciate about this metaphor is the activity assumed therein. As chasers of Light, we are not mere bystanders lifting our eyes in interest, half-hearted attendees feigning interest in something in which we have no investment in its outcome, but instead we are whole-hearted participants unwilling to distance ourselves from the event that informs our very dignity—the Incarnation. 

This approach to Advent is one I would like to try in a new way this year. At a time when the dignity of so many has come into question, the Christ child comes as a reminder that God does dwell among us, and in unlikely places. Advent or otherwise, we too are called to be a light in the darkness (John 1: 5).

Surely if there was a time when the world is seeking a hopeful light, that time is now.

The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
— John 1:5