This is the irrational season
When love blooms bright and wild,
Had Mary been filled with reason
There’d have been no room for the child.
– Madeleine L’Engle, “After Anunciation”
The Photographer and I are finishing up all the things that must be finished up for the year, looking forward to spending Christmas with my family, then New Years with his. It’s a wild time. As usual, nothing has gone as expected. Projects I thought I’d have finished long before now have found ways to drag on, and somehow the thought of carrying them over into a new year is bothering me more than I would have thought. I’ve realized there are definitely things in my life I’d like to get rid of, and with that awareness, I feel myself entering a familiar period of knowing I need to make some real changes, but not yet being able to see how they will be possible. That feeling used to terrify me. Now I’ve been through it enough times to be more comfortable with the trajectory. Certain changes seem huge and impossible, until somehow, suddenly, they don’t. I’ve gotten better at trusting that the needed shift will happen.
This is actually a perfect place to be, psychospiritually speaking, for the Advent season, which is about waiting for the birth of God. It’s about saying yes to mystery and the unknown, to the idea that the limited, frail, human self is also carrier of the divine. Madeleine L’Engle’s memoir The Irrational Season begins with a discussion of Advent. She writes, “The Nativity is a time to take courage. How brave am I? Can I bear, without breaking apart, this extraordinary birth?”
I remember an autumn several years ago when I became aware of the necessity to do something I really didn’t think I could do. (Perhaps necessity is too strong a word. I certainly could have stayed in the familiar, uncomfortable and stagnant though it was.) For a time I felt a strange, restless energy and couldn’t sleep. One day I drove a long way out and hiked for hours up on the bluffs overlooking the river. When I came down, what had seemed impossible was suddenly not only viable, but likely.
Looking back, this autumn has seemed to me about deep change, about walking a path through the illogical, not-knowing spaces, about occupation. Perhaps this irrational season is that wild, restless time before change happens, before something of the divine breaks through again in a new, suddenly possible way.