The fourth week of Advent this year is very short, just a matter of days. In the anticipation of Christmas, and the rush of all of the holiday preparations, this fourth week often times is brushed aside. To be honest, in some years, the fourth candle never seems to get lit.
But it is never too late to celebrate Advent. In fact that is the nature of the Advent season. It is the season of anticipation, constantly waiting and hoping at all times. It is about beginnings that permeate the entire year.
At our San Francisco Bay Area Mission House, we began Advent this year with a retreat but focused on the theme of what God is hoping to birth in us. During our weekly Lunch with Jesus gatherings, we have continued to reflect upon this, sharing the stirrings of the Spirit within us, gestating, growing and waiting to be born.
One of our group shared the following blog post by Marianne Williamson, entitled, Christmas Mystics that captured for him many of these Advent thoughts and feeling. We offer it here with the hope that these last few days of Advent will be for you days of increased awareness of the stirring what the Spirit is hoping to birth in you:
According to the mystical tradition, Christ is born into the world through each of us. As we open our hearts, he is born into the world. As we choose to forgive, he is born into the world. As we rise to the occasion, he is born into the world. As we make our hearts true conduits for love, and our minds true conduits for higher thoughts, then absolutely a divine birth takes place. Who we're capable of being emerges into the world, and weaknesses of the former self begin to fade. Thus are the spiritual mysteries of the universe, the constant process of dying to who we used to be as we actualize our divine potential.
We make moment-by-moment decisions what kind of people to be -- whether to be someone who blesses, or who blames; someone who obsesses about past and future, or who dwells fully in the present; someone who whines about problems, or who creates solutions. It's always our choice what attitudinal ground to stand on: the emotional quicksand of negative thinking, or the airstrip of spiritual flight.
Such choices are made in every moment, consciously or unconsciously, throughout the year. But this is the season when we consider the possibility that we could achieve a higher state of consciousness, not just sometimes but all the time. We consider that there has been one -- and the mystical tradition says there have also been others -- who so embodied his own divine spark that he is now as an elder brother to us, assigned the task of helping the rest of us do the same. According to A Course in Miracles, he doesn't have anything we don't have; he simply doesn't have anything else. He is in a state that is still potential in the rest of us. The image of Jesus has been so perverted, so twisted by institutions claiming to represent him. As it's stated in the Course, "Some bitter idols have been made of him who came only to be brother to the world." But beyond the mythmaking, doctrine and dogma, he is a magnificent spiritual force. And one doesn't have to be Christian to appreciate that fact, or to fall on our knees with praise and thanks at the realization of its meaning. Jesus gives to Christmas its spiritual intensity, hidden behind the ego's lure into all the wild and cacophonous sounds of the season. Beyond the nativity scenes, beyond the doctrinal hoopla, lies one important thing: the hope that we might yet become, while still on this earth, who we truly are.
Then we, and the entire world, will know peace."