A Journey Through Advent

by Katie Harmon-McLaughlin

I have heard from several people that they are not yet ready to think about Advent. I can relate to their resistance. Lately, I feel like I’ve been speeding through this life, coming up for air just in time to see the next season racing toward me. Busyness is an addiction. I have such good intentions of keeping open space and still it becomes full, and still it becomes rushed, and still I find myself weary from all the doing, struggling to gather the energy required for what is coming next.

Our journey through the Christian year serves a sacred and formational purpose. Perhaps it is when Advent seems to come so quickly, in our hurried movement from one season to the next, that we need its arrival the most. Perhaps being perfectly ready to receive Advent isn’t the point since it is the season of growing in readiness. Perhaps Advent is offered to us as a gift of grace, inviting us to the deeper rest of remembering how the Holy lives beyond what we can produce or control.

Sometimes, writes Alessandro Pronzato, “the most urgent thing is- to wait.”

Advent is a season of waiting, making ready, preparing a space for what God is doing in and through us. It reminds us that we cannot make on our own the one thing we want most. The invitation is to be attentive enough in the waiting to notice the signs of new life stirring beneath what we can see.

“That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.” Romans 8:23-25, MSG

Something is happening. This we can know. Advent’s destination is always what is promised: GOD-WITH-US. But there are no shortcuts or bypasses. What is needed is TIME for FORMING and our souls made available for this holy task. Our participation is required, but it is not one more thing to do. It is attention to what the Spirit is doing. It is our deepest hope becoming alive within us. It is deep hope being made real for the whole world.

So if you’re not quite ready, that’s ok.
Take a deep breath, maybe a few.
There is no rush.
The getting ready will happen along the way.

This Advent, you are invited to join us in a daily retreat through reflections, poems, prayers, and practices. 

Week 1– Advent Visitations: A Sacred Yes
Week 2– Advent Confrontations: Patience and Paradox
Week 3– Advent Vision: Bearing the Gift
Week 4– Advent Hope: Trusting the Promise


Lenten Practice: Centering Prayer
Daily Act: Practice holy listening with another person. Give them the space and time to share what is going on in his or her life. Be lovingly curious toward another life.
Weekly Prayer Phrase:


by Katie Harmon-McLaughlin

This morning I want to let the wise Sufi poet Rumi do the talking. All I will say is what has been said so many times before. When you quiet your heart for a moment and peer inside the vastness of your own being, you will stand on the threshold of worlds within! It’s awe evoking enough to see your own internal expanse, but what is even more glorious and soul satisfying is how you begin to see every person you meet as a carrier of the same type of immense spaciousness within their own soul.

Each one: a mystery. Each one: a container of worlds within. So many spaces of beauty left unexplored in one another. This is the pilgrimage I want to take: into the cavernous hearts of others, into a landscape I couldn’t describe if I tried. The goal here isn’t words anyway, but a silent, reverent, attentive listening. What could this world be like if we saw each one in this holy, precious way?

Beyond our ideas of right-doing and wrong-doing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase ‘each other’
doesn’t make sense any more.

Give us the inner listening
that is a way in itself
and the oldest thirst there is.

There is a way between voice and presence
Where information flows.
In disciplined silence it opens.
With wandering talk it closes.

Friend, we’re traveling together. Throw off
Your tiredness. Let me show you one tiny spot
Of the beauty that can’t be spoken.

Christian, Jew, Muslim, shaman, Zoroastrian, stone, ground, mountain, river, each has a secret way of being with the mystery, unique and not to be judged.

Try to see a treasure in everyone.

They say there is a doorway from heart to heart, but what is the use of a door when there are no walls?

Be a lamp, or a lifeboat, or a ladder.
Help someone’s soul heal.
Walk out of your house like a shepherd.

Love calls- everywhere and always.