There’s a collision that happens in my heart at Advent, this year more than ever. There’s the never-ending semester cycle when the busyness of the cerebral world of my classes crescendos hard into sforzando, there’s navigating the push-pull of family holidays, there’s food upon food — the pendulum-swing from ordering pizza too often because there isn’t enough time to cook, to flouring the kitchen with Christmas-cookie baking, to the too much food and not enough wine of extended-family meals. This year, too, as I’m wading into Episcopalianism, there’s the added sense of family-ness as I articulate the same beliefs and pray the same prayers week after week alongside the community of saints near and far, forward and backward through time; and the physicality of the Eucharist, gathering around the table of an embodied Christ, flesh and blood.
This Advent more than ever I am thinking about this God who became embodied: what it really means to believe in God with us and the Word became flesh and this is my body, broken for you. A God whose wounds you can touch, whose mother nursed him as a baby and comforted him when he was sick, whose tears fell salty in the dust and whose laughter rang loud and holy in the desert air. An infant God wrapped in cloths because his tiny body was cold, swaddled tight to soothe his startle reflex.
This Advent I am thinking about how if my body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, then this flesh itself is sacred — this same substance worn by the God of the universe, and shaped into God’s image. If I really believe in the words I recite every week, the resurrection of the body, then this is not some temporary meat-costume I will abandon so my soul can flit off to an immaterial heaven, but the too too solid flesh that will dance in the hereafter.
And I am thinking about Advent in a physical, tangible world, a world where the days grow shorter and colder, a world of gray sky and gray naked tree branches and gray muddy snow. An Advent season that piggybacked onto the old ways, waiting for the solstice and lighting fires against the dark. I am thinking about a star that burst into the holy darkness, showing the way out of the night.
This Advent I am thinking about darkness and earth and skin, scratchy blankets and prickly straw, hot breath and cold night air, sacred incarnation, holy flesh.