Waiting in joyful stillness

Last Sunday I attended a day of prayer for sisters in my province, to prepare for Advent. We had been asked to bring symbols of what Advent means to us. I brought a pack of Christmas cards: the pictures were religious, images of the Incarnation, to which Advent leads us, but the cards themselves also symbolised all the busy-ness of preparing for Christmas - cards and gifts for family and friends, work dos, and, of course, planning for the celebrations. Often there is a strange dissonance in all this: for example, living in a university city means that carol services - scheduled for before the holidays - happen when Advent has barely begun, so we're welcoming the birth of Christ three or more weeks before Christmas itself! And that's without what happens in shops sometime in October!

We got into small groups to share our symbols, and choose one to take back to the big group. In our sharing and discussion there was a convergence on the idea of Advent as a time of waiting… in stillness, emptiness, silence. There was, for us, a clear distinction between Advent as a time of inner preparation for the renewed coming of Jesus into our world and lives, and the busy-ness of all the external preparations for Christmas. Both are filled with joyful anticipation, but if we get too caught up in one we can easily forget the other!

We chose this image as our symbol of this waiting in silence, emptiness and hope…

Russische Bettlerin, Barlach
This Advent, I will keep that picture before me, and strive to live that attitude of stillness and waiting.

Happy Advent everyone!


  1. A lovely post Silvana! Thank you. What struck me is that Advent has caught me on the hop. I do not know how this time of year came so quickly. Things have been so hectic. Now that Advent has arrived I long to find the time for the stillness and quiet that you speak of. I wait for it. It will come, but not until later. Until then, the Christmas Cards, the presents, the valuable meetings with friends and with family - they all have to wait. It gets harder as Christmas approaches - I long to settle, see the people who mean most to me, sit and talk with friends, write cards and letters. Then, just in time for Gaudete Sunday - the holidays! The last week before Christmas is full of joy, my waiting to meet with friends and family comes to an end, and together we happily prepare for the coming of Christ. At that time, all I can do is laugh and smile. xx


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