I reveled in the blessed flame for a sweet moment until the demands of the infant in his high chair needing food shoveled in his mouth brought me back to domestic life.
I confess it: I secretly envy those who aren’t in the baby stage years anymore. I have to fight the bitterness as I wipe up mouths and messes all around the table while the season of joy is burning away faster than the lit purple candle.
“Mommy, the wax is getting everywhere…” my six year old points out that the candle, which is just slightly tilted, is apparently off kilter enough to burn unevenly and make a huge mess of things at its base.
“Thank you, darling.” I say. I guess Advent has started.
How I want to savor every moment, crooked candle and all. But even the joy is work; it is a labor, and the worker is often too tired to really experience it.
I think of Mary at the end of her pregnancy during this time. There was no Advent yet. There was just this Roman imposed census and this journey she was going to have to make while she neared her delivery.
Did she too have to labor to experience joy in her un-ideal circumstances? It couldn’t have been all rosy and mystical like we get to experience with our advent wreathes, nativity scenes and baking marathons. What was it like for her?
For the past few months I have been keeping close Our Lady of Guadalupe in the hopes of, I don’t know, actually getting to know her. And maybe I just need her. I need to know that it’s okay not to be in perpetual spiritual bliss twenty four seven.
I need to know that the tiredness of being a mom is a part of and not separate to what Advent means and that I don’t have to try to fake being joyful. I need to know that the joy of the season, hard work it though it may be, is still a valid joy and that the grace to feign off that bitterness towards life is pretty substantial grace in itself.
To those that are able to immerse themselves in Advent with daily mass, devotional readings, special advent prayers etc., please remember those of us who are just glad that the crooked purple candle gets lit a couple of times.
Please pray for those of us who can’t go two feet without a request or boo-boo or kid problem needing attention and that only get to experience some of advent while the kids are busy watching Mickey’s Christmas Carol. I'll admit it! I am probably watching Mickey too. This is as good as it gets for now, and sometimes we just need the encouragement that that’s okay.
And Blessed Mother, please pray for those parents who, like yourself at this time of you, aren’t living in the most ideal circumstances. This joy of the season, for some is a labor. Please help us remember the greatest labor and joy are yet to come.