By Jerry Hebenstreit
Advent is a time of preparation. Amid all the chatter and noise about Christmas gifts and shopping deals and holiday cheer, Advent reminds us to take some time to ready ourselves for the coming of Christ once again. Even though we’ve gone through Advent many times before, it’s always a new story. We just aren’t in the same place we were years ago, or even last year. We experience Advent differently each time, and we can grow in closeness to God.
I shot this image in October at Weston Priory, a Benedictine monastic community in southern Vermont. It’s an image of the time just at sunrise at Peace Pond, on the Priory grounds. It captures what was happening at a specific moment. But it also speaks to me of potential. The sky is lit, but indistinct; details on the ground are only slowly becoming clear; the pond is still and calm; the scene is becoming something else. All of creation is waiting for what comes next. This is a moment between the dark stillness for night and the bright activity of day. The future is being offered to me, and to all of us, in that instant. Advent is like that, too.
Advent is a gift to us. We can get caught in the chaos or we can check out from time to time and savor the great treasure that God gave us and continues to give—God Incarnate. The photo may be an extreme example of a calm place, but it helps me remember to look for others in my daily life, to count my blessings and realize just how much I am loved. I don’t have to travel to Vermont to feel that calm place; I just need to remind myself such calm exists and that, having found it once, I can summon it at will. I can look ahead. I can prepare.