I have a strong sense of Advent from a year ago.  It was a time of real renewal for me.  Part of that was from being able to participate in the Benedictine Weekend Retreat at the Bishop’s Ranch in Healdsburg (which I would love to be able to do regularly).  Part of that was beginning to get immersed in the monastic version of the St. Helena Breviary.  I haven’t been able to maintain that level of immersion, but I think that’s still really feeding my spiritual life.  Much of it was sheer grace – simply a gift.

On the other hand, I have very little sense of Christmas from a year ago.  I think part of it is that we went on vacation right after Christmas (and I shifted my spiritual discipline for the trip).  Without looking, I suspect that part of it was simply that the Christmas Season was shorter last year, and I had less time to connect with the season (liturgically).

This year, as I more regularly use the “ordinary” of Christmas in the breviary, I’m starting to feel the season in my bones (as it were).  Daily I say the invitatory antiphon and response:  “Alleluia, unto us a child is born:  O come, let us worship, alleluia.”  Daily I say the antiphon and response with the Psalter:  “The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, * and we beheld the glory of God, alleluia.”  From the seasonal canticle for Matins after the first reading I hear:  “For to us a child is born, * to us a child is given.”  From the Hymn after the second reading at Matins:  “The Christ, who made all things to be, was born in great humility, that, liberating flesh by flesh, creation thus might live afresh.”  It goes on.  And with this regular repetition, it seems that the season is really beginning to live in me.

This is a gift – really the true gift of Christmas – received, I think, as never before.  Thank you Jesus for coming to make your home with us, and bring us to our true home.  Thank you Spirit for the grace of feeling this more deeply in my heart and bones.  Thank you loving God in heaven, for your determination to bring us home again.

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