Have you heard an annunciation, seen a star, or been visited by some Gabriel during this period of Advent? We are never alone. We are visited in so many ways. As Howard Thurman writes in The Mood of Christmas, “We are visited in ways that we can understand and in ways that are beyond our understanding, by highlights, great moments of inspiration, quiet reassurances of grace, simple manifestations of gratuitous expressions of the goodness of life.”
The genius of Charles Dickens in A Christmas Carol lies in his awareness that we, like Ebenezer Scrooge, are visited at Christmas. We are visited by loved ones, by friends, and old acquaintances long since gone (as Scrooge was visited by his partner Jacob Marley). We remember those who carried the light against the darkness for us, those who guided and helped us along our way. They visit us. The Spirit of Christmas Past, Present and Future visit us too, if we pause and open the inner inn within our hearts and make room for them.
We are visited. We are never alone. Who is to say that when I remember one of the “Star Persons” of my life and feel her close even now, as though visiting with me, that that experience is not similar to that of Gabriel approaching Mary? Who does not, at this time of year, recall and feel visited by the Spirit of Christmases Past, Present and Future? Are these visits the “stars” that can guide us, or perhaps the annunciations that will give us new purpose? Advent means “to come” and in this period many visitors have come to you and me (in the deep recesses of our hearts).
Just because the season of Advent comes to an end today does not mean that these visits will cease. If we keep the Advent Spirit of openness and receptivity such visits may actually increase. May I remind you too, that there are yet Twelve Days of Christmas, during which all kinds of “new things” can happen!
“And ye, beneath Life’s crushing load, whose forms are bending low,
who toil along the climbing way with painful steps and slow,
look now! for glad and golden hours come swiftly on the wing.
O rest beside the weary road, and hear the angels sing!