Advent breezed in this weekend without the pomp and circumstance we might be inclined to give it, just as it does every year—with dimmed lights, flickering candles and space for quiet—everyday reminders to help carve out space for the holy in our ordinary. Even more fittingly, we celebrated the arrival of our Church’s’ newest member through the Sacrament of Baptism—appropriately embarking into Advent on the first day of her journey of faith.
This crowd rose early and headed west toward the mountains to cut down our first Rocky-mountain-grown Christmas tree on Sunday. And wouldn’t you know it, the clouds shone purple, pink and gold like they were in on the Liturgical celebration; like they do this time of year. I love when that happens. We hopped into the car just as the radio program for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas performance began its broadcast . When we lost reception, we turned off the radio and watched the mountains brighten in the rising sun, kiddos fading in and out in the back seat. It may have taken thirty-three years to figure it out, but this is an ideal way to begin the season of Advent.
Hopping out of the car, our driving legs were immediately put to work as we began to climb and search for the perfect tree. Again, we were surrounded by the quiet, the peace of it all and the timelessness of creation. Amateurs that we are, we parked our car at a campground on the very last weekend for Christmas tree-cutting. This led to more searching and more piggy-back rides up the popular slopes, but we did find a tree. It’s rustic in its mountain-grown build, but this reminder of evergreen hope is exactly what I’m hoping to emulate this Advent: simple, un-cluttered, beauty that points to something greater.
Now, enter my baby’s 104 degree fever.
Fevers are my undoing. They terrify me—they make me question all manner of things from the accuracy of my thermometer, to the hours of urgent care, to my abilities as a mother and the wonder of the human body. Fevers don’t mess around. They give me a repeated sense of my own limitedness, and I don’t care much for that reminder. Give me vomit, diapers, teething and insomnia, but please don’t ask me to care for those suffering from fevers. I recognize that this is small potatoes compared to what so many care-givers have learned to take in stride and I have all the more respect for each of you when I reach this care-giving threshold.
It turns out however, that treating a fever in someone we love is another way to welcome Advent. Not one I had planned, one I’d recommend, and certainly not one I’d care to repeat anytime soon. However, I can’t remember another Advent Sunday I have spent sleeping so lightly, hearing every stir, creeping out just to check, and sitting quietly in the dark in prayer over the one I held in my arms. Now that the night has passed and the fever has broken, I can recognize the invitation for what it is—the eagerness and attentiveness with which to seek Emmanuel.