to resonate with mystery.
God wants to lodge with us once again,
enveloping us in mystery.
Growing up in Germany, Advent was always an exciting time! It was a time when ancient and very poetic Advent songs were sung at church and school. At home, we would bake cookies and it seemed like there were lots of secret and hidden things happening. For sure, I knew that my parents and grandparents were busy getting our Christmas gifts ready. They would change their usual routines; somehow, they were surrounded with this veil of expectancy. We children, too, would sneak away to our uncle's house and work on our arts and crafts. I remember my excitement as I was anticipating my mother's delight over a picture I created. Still today, when I think back to these happy times, I can feel this expectancy, secrecy, excitement and the fragrances of the cookies baking in the oven. There is one word that captures all of this well for me: Mystery - something was happening, awaited and it was very sensual.
Many a year (like now in 2014), the feast of the apostle St. Andrew would be at the beginning of Advent. I am carrying his name. Catholics in my local area celebrated their name days rather than their birthdays. Maybe this was a way of distinguishing ourselves from the Lutherans all around us. Maybe it was to have us feel the awesome dignity that being named after a saint bestows. It sure helped me to identify with the man who followed his intuition to follow Jesus. The gospel of John relates this story beautifully. John the Baptist reveals to his two disciples (Andrew and another unnamed disciple) who Jesus is. These two follow Jesus. Then, the gospel explains, "When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?" (John 1:38).
Advent is the season to get ready to go and see where Jesus is going to lodge among us. Advent invites us to listen to Jesus' question, "What are you looking for?" Andrew is going to be a faithful companion in the listening and responding. Mystery abounds in these moments of dialogue, of prayer.
As we light the first candle on the Advent Wreath, may we open ourselves to the gifts of this season.
May we use this season to embrace Mystery once again.
St. Benedict Monastery