Pillar Journal
Vol. 5 No.1 / Advent 2022 - A seasonal journal produced by Pillar Church in Holland, MI to guide us through the Christian year.
Pillar Journal

Wonderful

Image

Wonderful (adjective)— inspiring delight, pleasure, or awe, sometimes flashy and in-your-face, but not always: sometimes wonderful is quiet, whispering to some subconscious understanding of the natural world and your place in it.

It’s—
the—
most
wonderful
time—
of the year!

So goes the old song, anyway.

Maybe I’m a little early; maybe that song isn’t applicable to these late fall days, to this November melancholy. Maybe you’re supposed to save it until the bright sparkle of Christmastime, when the snow sticks around a bit more, covering all the browns and greys completely, and even the stoplights on the city streets (to borrow from another song) “blink a bright red and green”.

Maybe.

Or maybe I’m not that far off to sing it now, as I drive along country roads watching combines crawl methodically back and forth across the dry fields, stopping now and then to fill wagons with their harvest gold. The dry leaves of cornstalks and soybeans shine with an almost-hidden luster that only the long light of morning or evening can bring forth, and only if you’re watching for it: shades of lavender and cream.

The dying plants in my garden have a softer beauty now. They are frail, the veins standing out in the spotted leaves, but the dimming colors are richer, somehow, for surviving the first weeks of cold nights.

It occurs to me that maybe people are a little like that, too, in their own way.

The world is tilting, falling towards winter in slow-motion, the way the last of the autumn leaves do when they finally release their hold on the branches of the trees. And I feel that tug within me, in some deep place of my soul: the world is preparing for something.

In its dying and scattering, its harvesting and gathering in, it is a stripped-down version of itself, and it waits… leaning toward Christmas.

Fredrick Buechner’s words have played in my mind over and over to the rhythm of this time of gathering dark and growing cold.

For a second you catch a whiff in the air of some fragrance that reminds you of a place you’ve never been and a time you have no words for. You are aware of the beating of your heart. 

The extraordinary thing that is about to happen is matched only by the extraordinary moment just before it happens.

Advent is the name of that moment… if you concentrate just for an instant, far off in the deeps of you somewhere you can feel the beating of your heart.

For all its madness and lostness, not to mention your own, you can hear the world itself holding its breath.” (Buechner)

It’s the most wonderful—
full of wonder—
time of the year.

Kate Dulmes, Advent 2022
Cover Image: Jan Propst

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