Beginning the Countdown: “We’re All Broken”

Christmas is nearly here, and I’m not ready.

This overwhelming feeling of not being prepared, though, isn’t because I haven’t finished my Christmas shopping or cookie-baking or gift-making or travel-plans-arranging (though of course I haven’t).

It’s not that I’m not ready for Christmas. It’s that I’m not yet ready for Advent to be over.

How can it be that even when you light candles in your living room and watch the the circle of tea lights getting brighter and brighter, even when you try really hard to avoid listening to the cheery Christmas carols announcing the already-born Savior, even when you have been wearing long underwear for three weeks trying to stay warm in a drafty old house in central Kentucky, how can it be that Advent is slipping by you and you haven’t even taken the time to be still?

Well, now I sit in a frigid, unfurnished basement with a genuine Grandma-made afghan around my shoulders, having nearly finished everything that had been looming over my head from last week. And I’m wondering how I can be still and prepare my heart in the very few days that are left before Advent is over and we move into a new season, a season of feasting rather than fasting, of celebration rather than yearning, of joy rather than preparation.

I don’t know the answer, truth be told, but since our weekend turned out to be unexpectedly packed full of Over the Rhine music, I’ve got it seeping out of my pores. And so to Over the Rhine I am turning to help me countdown the last few days of Advent.

Last summer I asked OtR’s Linford Detweiler about the way their music tends to (what I call) “sacramentalize” ordinary, lived experience, finding beauty in brokenness. His answer is where I want to start this week:

Take the unwillingness to divide the world into sacred and secular, or an unwillingness to divide the world into the broken and the unbroken—we see that those divisions cannot be made. We’re all broken, and it’s all sacred. So that is sort of where we try to live. And if we fail, on a personal level, I think songs can remind us what we aspire to.*

Take a deep breath and then read it again. And then one more time.

That is Advent.

We’re all broken, and it’s all sacred.

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* Excerpts from our conversation can be found here on the Christianity Today website.

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