Advent is a preparatory time. Some remember the last Sunday before Advent as a call to pre-Christmas actions, “Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people". Some use Advent to focus on the Second Coming of Jesus, others explore the movement from darkness to light and others as preparation for birth, a new life among us. Each perspective is worthy of focus and meditation and they all have one thing in common, we know the end of the story.
But 2020 is different, a year of not knowing what happens next, a time of unpredictability.
This Advent might be a time to look backwards before looking forward into the future. In One Native Life, Richard Wagamese wrote about the Ojibway perspective that life has seven hills. “Each hill is a vantage point for looking back, though not everyone takes the time for reflection. The Ojibway say it is only in looking back that you discern the trail, identify the climb and rest contented in each stage of the journey.”
We have indeed been on a journey since February-March of 2020. On the Chilkloot Trail my friends and I were told the differences between a path, a trail and a route. A path is well worn, usually the easiest way, used by many, easily found. A trail takes us through wilder country. We need to look a little harder to find the way at times. A route is a temporary way around unexpected obstacles like a fast flowing stream or an unstable snowpack.
This Advent is more a route than a path, we are encountering unexpected obstacles. Before we embark on this journey, sit on the hill of the past nine months and look back for a moment. Identify your achievements and rest contented, even if it is just for a moment.
We can then explore the route December brings and remember that the journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem was likely a route as well for the Mother and the Father and the Light yet to come into the World.
Hikinf the Chilkoot Trail