Only a few of you will, but I think I can handle that. *grin*
I wanted to celebrate Advent properly. I really did.
Last year I decided to go "all out" -- I limited our decorations during the season of Advent, saving them (properly) for the actual celebration of Christmas itself. Our house was pretty austere, for sure, but that was what I was shooting for. It was not something I had ever experienced as a child, and I wanted to get the full effect of waiting... and longing... that comes from Advent.
What I got instead was totally unexpected.
The readings, which I had heard every year of my life, took a most decidedly ominous turn. The warnings of all the events of the end times became more personal, as it dawned on me that perhaps it wasn't so far in the future after all. Sober warnings of this earth one day passing away became, "no, no, wait... Do you mean MY world, MY stuff, is going to pass away? Like soon? In my lifetime?" Suddenly I realized that I found great security and comfort in things staying just as they are... that I counted on grocery stores to always stock food, a roof always over my head, Mass on Sunday, and baseball, hotdogs, apple pie, and the good ol' USA to always be... well, here.
Staring into the dark nothingness that my imagination was providing me freaked me out like I have never freaked out before, and I sank into despair and terror that lasted for 6 months. It was only by the grace of God and the intercession of Mary that I was yanked out of it, and I have been free from fear for over 6 months.
Yeah, until Advent rolled around again.
I found that same dread rolling in the pit of my stomach as I heard the readings for the first Sunday of Advent, and the following Sunday's weren't much better. Couple that with the news from our government and the rest of the world, and you've got one freaked-out chick again.
I just can't "do" Advent. I can't focus on the waiting and the longing. I can't sit in austere surroundings while hearing ominous warnings from Our Lord Himself about what is to come. I wish I could. I wish I could be brave and put on a sober (yet somehow hopeful) face and think all the good thoughts and say all the good things that a proper Christian soldier should... but I can't.
Instead, I find myself hiding behind colored lights, shmaltzy Christmas songs, and my normal Christmas decorations. I feel like I've got my fingers in my ears singing, "La la la! I can't hear you!" It's all silly and I know it. I know there is no security in any of these things, but I desperately need to know that for now, things are still "normal."
My hat is off to all those out there who are able to celebrate the season of Advent properly -- focusing on the now... the waiting and the longing... the reality of the darkness... and the ever-growing brightness of the Light. I admire you all.
Some day I will look back on all this and laugh. Some day all this will be over, the fear will be gone, and there will be no need to freak out ever again. I give each and every one of you permission to come up to me on that day and say, "remember that post you had on your blog a long time ago? You were so worried, and yet look at how wonderfully God took care of each and every one of us!" I know that will be true, and I will laugh right along with you and tell you stories of how He came through every time.
Until then, I'll be the timid one at Mass, squeaking out a pathetic little, "Come, Lord Jesus" as the rest of you boldly sing "O Come O Come Emmanuel."