Advent Word: Look

Today was an amazingly beautiful late Autumn day in Virginia. After several days of chilly weather…including some Thanksgiving hail…it felt refreshing to be outside in plain clothes without shivering. A stockpile of bulbs awaited planting: tulips, daffodils, grape hyacinth, crocus. We wandered around the yard, looking for corners that could use some spring-time brightening up.

What I love about bulb-planting is the potential. Every autumn, we turn back the ground, clear away roots and debris, and sink these little, dried up balls several inches below the dirt. We envision spring-time color, but really it is all up to nature at that point. Springtime in my yard is always a miniature miracle of blooms that catch me by surprise. Sometimes, by the time spring arrives, I have forgotten my planting locations or the neighborhood squirrels have decided to have some fun moving the bulbs around. Something always catches me off-guard.

Today, something else caught my attention, though. I was kneeling beneath my magnolia, putting in a few crocus into the dirt around the tree trunk. When I looked up, I first noticed the wonderful furry coats the magnolia blossoms had all donned for winter. My tree looked like it was full of pussy-willow branches. How ingenious is nature, devising exactly the right kind of protection as winter approaches to protect the springtime blooms. Then, through the branches, I saw a sturdy, well-constructed nest that held a family of birds. It was secure and would inevitably keep its occupants clear of cold and snow until it was safe to return and emerge into spring.

There we all were: birds, trees, humans…all preparing, gathering, building up our potential. Our readiness can be seen with the eye and with the heart as we allow our potential to be nurtured by Divine Nature so we can emerge into the fullness of being.

So it is with Advent, this holy season of preparing for that next outburst of energy, for the incarnation of divine potential in human form. Blossoms will split through the winter coats of the magnolia; bulbs will push through the earth, piercing the hard and cold darkness to push through the surface. Birds will nest, and eggs will hatch. Our own spirits will navigate the darkness, nurtured by divine grace. We prepare, we look, we wait expectantly for the incarnation that resides in us to spring forth.

But today, I look to the protection and shelter I see in these barren branches. I see potential there, just as God sees in all creation, even in our own lives. I look, and I pray. For protection, for readiness, for the nurturing of divine potential ready to burst forth incarnate when the time comes to bloom.

May divine grace bring me to my full potential, too.


In response to the AdventWord global advent calendar project with the Society for St. John the Evangelist. Today’s word: #look. Follow the worldwide advent calendar at:

About harasprice

Professor of Social Work and Priest in The Episcopal Church, parent, teacher, learner, writer, advocate, and grateful traveller along this journey through life
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