During the season of Advent we are invited to heed the call of John the Baptist to prepare the way of the Lord. This time of year presents us with the opportunity to look inward, to do some soul-searching, and to reflect on how the Lord is calling us to a metanoia, a change of heart.
I would wager that most Christians view these weeks of December as the Christmas season, with its travel, shopping, decorating, and parties leading up to December 25. On December 26 the radio stations stop playing Christmas music, gift returns are made, and the world goes back to everyday life.
For Christians in tune with the Church calendar, the Christmas season begins on Christmas Eve and continues until the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord in January. All of our pre-Christmas activities are still important, but so is the reflective nature of Advent, where we are invited to spend some time during these weeks before Christmas reflecting on our darkness and sinfulness, individually and corporately, on our need for a Saviour, on our need for the one who brings light into our darkness.
I find that spending some time with black and white or monochromatic photography puts me in a reflective mood. In these images the natural color has been stripped away, and just the essentials of shape, form, texture, and luminance remain. In our Advent reflections, what are the essentials of our life and our faith? How do the choices we make support these essential values? How might we open our hearts more fully this year to receive the Christ, the Light of the world?
“As it is written in Isaiah the prophet: ‘Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way. A voice of one crying out in the desert: Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.'” (Mark 1:2-3)