FaithjourneySelf-Care

Advent in Retrograde…

Advent is the beginning of the Church’s liturgical calendar. I never knew that growing up. I always thought that Christmas happened at the end of the year, a way to go out with a bang when really, it’s meant to be the beginning. It’s a season of preparing ourselves for what is to come in the year ahead of us.

It’s the darkest point of the year (at least for the northern hemisphere) and each Sunday we light a new candle to signify the Light of God coming to us, illuminating the shadows.

I’ve been meditating on this concept a lot recently, how that in the midst of the darkness of our world, God came as a tiny drop of starlight, in the most vulnerable form possible. And God announced Their arrival to the least likely people: dirty shepherds who were pretty much the refuse of society and to non-jews who used astrology to find God’s child…

The Light was there, but it was only found by those who were earnestly seeking it.

I see too many parallels to what is happening in our own lives right now, or at least in my personal life. So much shit has gone down recently, be it with the church that I’m slowly breaking up with, in my own family or my own life. It feels like shadows on all sides, and I have to remember to look for the Light.

My therapist and I were going over why Advent can be such a struggle.. She pointed out that the reason we feel so tired is in part due to the lack of daylight. It’s a regular product of our species to feel less energized in winter. We were meant to rest more, to hibernate, to take more time for ourselves, but our culture has forgotten that. We keep going because we have to. We’ve created businesses and systems that need constant attention. And thus, we feel exhausted during the holidays instead of slowing down as nature and God intended.

Oddly enough, I’ve got a yogi friend who is also very into astrology, and we were talking about Mercury being in retrograde. Supposedly it’s a time that is ripe with interpersonal chaos and things going awry. (Oddly enough, technology tends to act up too, and for real y’all… my phone is on the fritz.)

Honestly, I always felt was just a cliche that folks used when they couldn’t get their shit together and just wanted to blame the universe for their lack of self-control and inability to cope with life. But I dunno y’all… shit’s been hitting the fan, and it’s not that I can’t cope, but I’m just hurting. And my yogi friend told me that the issue is people hear “Mercury is in retrograde” and try to fight against the chaos of what is happening, rather than standing in a place of non-judgment and surrendering to the flow of what the universe is doing. It’s trying to shake off what we don’t need, strip us of what is non-essential.

Like the pruning of a master gardener, I thought to myself. Much like God being coming like a thief, and us being reminded to be awake…

She said, “We need to slow down, stop fighting what God is doing, and pay attention to the lessons the Divine is trying to bestow upon us. That’s the invitation…”

I’m not one to make a theodicy out of conversations with folks… but damn if God is not trying to talk directly to me these past few days.

I’ve had this feeling, as I’ve been allowing myself to be more open to what the Divine wants to teach me, that many spiritual practices are saying the same things with different language. So perhaps it is no coincidence that Advent and Mercury in retrograde are both happening at once. Advent is here to remind me to search for the light in all the shadows around me, to tell me to rest. Mercury is retrograding (not a verb, but whatever) to show me what I don’t need.

Gross.

Between my personal life being in chaos, my connection to my church slowly dissolving, attacks from bullshit open letter writers and my desire to fight back with anger instead of grace… God, wtf are you trying to show me? 

Today, I had a severe, full-blown breakdown. First time in years that I’ve uncontrollably cried. And I cried for the things I want to say but can’t, the things I should do but haven’t, the things I want to fix but are beyond repair… 

And so now, I’m sitting in this bed, trying to process it all. I’m trying to pay attention to the lessons the universe is throwing at me. I’m trying to remember that God suffers with me. I’m holding onto the truth that strength is not found in power, but in vulnerability.

I’m trying to breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth. I’m trying to let my mind rest and be here. I’m trying to look for drops of starlight in a sea of darkness.

I don’t know where you’re at. I dunno if you’ve had to slow down or if everything is just twinkly lights and sugar plums. But I hope that you’re slowing down. I hope that you’re noticing the lessons. I hope you’re finding light in the darkness. I hope you’re learning to surrender to the flow of what God is doing. I hope your hands are open to what God wants to take so that you can walk more freely and without as much to carry.

Advent… in retrograde… what a funny thing.

What do Advent and Mercury in Retrograde have in common? Both are an invitation to slow down, to pay attention... Click To Tweet
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