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Advent. A time of waiting with bated breath for the future to unfold. Today in 2021 we are reminded that we are waiting: "Omicron has risen to more than 44% of cases in London and is expected to become the dominant variant in the city in the next 48 hours". Illness is expected to peak in two weeks, they say. With some luck that takes us past Christmas, but it may not... 

It's dark. The sun and the summer is as far away as it can be from us this month. We are lost and seek answers- but there is nothing coming back…

What do we do then? How do we act? What is the ground of things that we can be sure of as we fumble about in the darkness? 

What we tend to act out as a community, as a world-  all that is also playing out in us as individuals. Countless people who are outwardly so carefree and busy with tinsel, trees and lights - many of them are also quietly and inwardly despairing "Not again!" and thinking "What is my plan B?"   Is it Netflix and chips instead of family and turkey? Or a flask of hot chocolate and a countryside walk -by myself? Of course people are affected by all this - I  wonder at those who claim not to be - and I have not met any that do. But I have spoken to many people who refuse to think about it, who are so clamped up in fear that to allow even the glimmer of a thought is to release the flood of overwhelm. 

There's a sense of near hysteria pervading the media, and that near hysteria seems to be so very close to the surface of society, and I don't know  whether it is fanned and put there by the media or merely reported on by the media. Either way people are knuckling down and getting it done, cancelling parties, getting Boosters, ordering Turkey,  getting tested, working from home, cancelling the skiing trip, but not actioning plan B (or is it C) - not yet.... 

With all this hullabaloo and uncertainty it is easy to imagine that the focus or purpose of Advent is only to look to the future, to prepare for the future. But spiritually it is actually to be in the present. Advent is a breath, a stop-gap between the blazing riot of Autumn back-to -school-and-work busyness and the quiet of now, before the real winter, before the solstice and the great turning of the wheel of the year away from darkness once more. It is a bonus time. A time of very few demands. A time of gestating something that cannot be rushed. A time of being with the not knowing. In 2021 that's a not knowing on so many levels: societally, inwardly, relationally.

This year Advent is shaped by the things we can do, by those things we choose to do - as much as by those things we choose not to do. What are the parties we cancel- and which are the ones that just need to happen; what are the trips that simply must be taken, the shopping that's absolutely needed- and what is not needed and can be thrown aside with no real regrets.

So I think that without really thinking about it we each of us know what for us is the ground of things that we can be sure of as we fumble about in the darkness and unknowing.

Today is about staying in the present. Yes, Looking back and clinging onto memories of summer, of friends, of family and of the innocence of pre-pandemic times is a pleasant pastime -but its no longer real, is no longer the con-pandemic world we now inhabit; and similarly very soon in only a few weeks we will be right in the mid-winter solstice darkness and the peak of this Omicron wave, and no amount of fretting or worrying or wishing it were not so will change whatever that time will hold for us.  

So today is about staying in the presentOne way to stay present to become aware of ourselves both inner and outer: To take a minute to feel our bodies and to feel the edges of our selves where we cease to be and the air begins, to feel the weight of us on the soles of our feet-  where the ground begins. And it is a ground we know well.

Feeling into the space between the I-Thou and remembering that there is an I. That we are more than our circumstances, that we are going to do more than just survive and get through the next months, but to do that we need to open our hearts towards a new direction and welcome what comes. It is not us, we are not it. But our souls have touchpoints and we are are continuously affected by them: our environment, community, people, peers, pets and family- and even this highly anthropomorphized virus- provides those touchpoints that shape us through our response to them.

So perhaps this year Advent is about opening up to the vital torrent of our own aliveness, our own soul. To sit with that. To nurture that.  To pull back to the ground of our being - that place that we know so well and which needs no introduction, no thought. That place where we are the strongest and best version of what we can be- where we know what we stand for and what matters. 

And from that place of our own aliveness - and indeed our own power - to feel the joy of that place and let that be the flickering flame that dispels our inner darkness, whatever else happens around us.  Right here, right now where we are, we can breathe- and perhaps even pray: 


For what has been – thanks

For what is yet to come- yes


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