The light of a lonely purple candle on my coffee table signals the start of the Advent season. For those who follow the liturgical rhythms of the Christian year, this season offers a holy invitation. It stands sober and resolute, calling us to consider what promises might find fulfillment around the next turn.
In many circles, the days of Advent get lost in the roaring cheer of Christmas. But the two seasons are distinct. And I think we should keep them that way, however difficult it may be. Where Christmas finds its center in glory and revelation, the days of Advent take their place under the canopy of a starry sky. These are the days where we ponder questions asked ages ago… where we slow the crushing obligations of December… and where we make some attempt — however feeble — to practice the lost art of waiting.
A few years ago, while pondering my own questions, I wrote a song about what it’s like to wait and wonder during the Advent season. My wife, Jessica, took the simple melody, and made it into something much better. Our friend Scott added a beautiful lead guitar element that I’m pretty sure he composed in the car ride over to our house. The audio and lyrics are attached below.
My own spiritual practice has proven that I’m terribly unsuccessful at the kind of waiting I’m proposing. But I sit here in the dark with this solitary candle, shining for all it’s worth until the others around the wreath join in. And for tonight, this one candle is enough — enough to fuel the wonder and expectation that keep me looking for what’s around the next turn.
If You Ever Wonder
If you ever wonder why the darkest winter sky refuses to give way.
If you ever wonder when the daylight will dance in and cover over gray.
If you ever wonder how a silent night would sound apart from all the noise you know.
If you ever wonder who could whisper heaven’s truth to creatures here below.
Every valley shall be filled. And all the crooked roads made straight.
We rejoice that Emmanuel shall come to wondering hearts that wait.
No one said waiting would be easy, searching stars for reasons to believe.
All you really want are answers, but maybe it’s not really answers that you need.
‘Cause hope has brought us here. And hope will conquer fear. And hope will be the story that we tell.
The future and the past shall be reconciled at last, when Love made flesh among us comes to dwell.
(Repeat chorus twice)