December is such a strange time of year but Advent seems to me an interesting and serious space – an opportunity for reflection. There is certainly some hope in it but there’s also conflict with darkness, desperation and ignorance. This year there seems a special poignancy as there is some hope at the point I’m writing this of some agreement on climate change action from the world’s nations, but this is alongside despair at the almost inevitable added destruction with the UK joining in the bombing of Syria.
It’s hard to remember that Christ offers something that transcends tragedy which is a passing beyond the darkness to glory. Advent is the celebration of the coming and the presence of Christ in the world and that is in the midst of all the terrible problems and disasters. The encouragement is for a time of great serious sobriety – in all meanings of the word. The fact that the world is not as we each might want it to be is surely part of being human, but perhaps Advent offers an opportunity to take a new look – to stand outside the usual and prepare for the unexpected.
The depth psychologist might say that the projection and wish fulfilment outwards onto Christ as the longed for saviour is a diversion from what may need to happen in the inner world. For Advent could also be seen as the serious space to clear out old conceptions and fantasies of who we are. What instead might be celebrated is a mystery of emptiness, of poverty, and of limitation, in other words celebration of a different sort of reality which would indeed be a reason to hope. That would be a different sort of beginning, a beginning that includes the end and acceptance of the complexity of life: the part of me that hopes and the part of me that is destructive. Perhaps these days are times of crisis, times when we become shaken out of our complacency into a new space and light.