The cornerstone of this Advent season, which began Sunday the 27th of November, is the idea of making room for God to come. It is a time of waiting, as Mary did, with the impossible promise that a Saviour would be born, the miracle of light coming to a dark world.
“The arrival of Advent marks the beginning of the church year. In the Western church, Advent begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas…The word itself is from the Latin word ‘veni’–adventus–coming.
“Because Advent is a season of preparation and penitence, fasting has historically been part of Advent observance, a way to clear away the detritus of the year and create space in our lives for Christ to come.” (The Circle of Seasons–Meeting God in the Church Year, Kimberlee Conway Ireton, IVP Books, 2008.)
We ordered new kitchen appliances last week. Everything started when the microwave died (sacre bleu! one can’t live without a microwave to heat up coffee. Or baby bottles). This led to a conversation about the refrigerator which had been humming its way loudly to a definite motor-y end. We dug out the paperwork and discovered the frig was 17 years old.
Here’s a photo of our kitchen on Thanksgiving 2000, one year after we got it, all brand spanking new. That’s my daughter Leah the chef basting the turkey. (And no, I will not talk about the psychedelic flooring.)
After a thorough appliance reconnoiter, husband and I decided to join the Black Friday crowds and headed to Home Depot. Four hours later we had ordered for the first time ever a matching frig, dishwasher, microwave and range. In stainless steel. We are so de rigueur.
Maybe my dear readers are already aware of what such a purchase entails, but I don’t think we considered exactly how arduous ‘out with the old, in with the new’ would be under such circumstances. Last Saturday’s chores involved 5 hours of cleaning of stove and frig–outsides only–and cleaning of the floors underneath. I was appalled at the debris and gunk on the sides of our range. We are not slobs….how did this happen??? I blame 16 years of coffee prep. And under the frig? Oh, beyond disgusting.
I had been notified via my daughter in our Thanksgiving conversations a few nights’ previous that magnets do not stick to stainless steel. Oh. I did not know that. Well, there go the grandkids’ photos and artwork. There go my magnets from Laguna Beach and Yosemite, my favorite of Lucy and Ethel at the chocolate factory, Scripture cards, quotes I liked. A veritable bulletin board available 24/7, reminding me constantly of All the Things.
People, places, Bible verses, photographs. Football schedules, equivalent baking measures, an encyclopedia of input and information. It would all have to go.
So, empty box in hand, I swept the surface clean and windexed it to its glorious, brand-new, former self.
My words are a paltry representation of the change that came over me after that clean sweep. Every time I walked into the kitchen I literally breathed a peaceful sigh. Husband and I remarked many times throughout the next day at how pleased we were with the empty space, that it seemed quieter in the kitchen because all the noise on the frig was gone.
Surrounded 24/7 with visual input had driven me to distraction. I spend a lot of time in our kitchen area and when the wide expanse of the refrigerator front presented some breathing room, I reveled in its beauty. I’m sure that seems weird, but the outcome was a continued decluttering of counters and drawers.
Mary’s pregnancy may have prompted what we refer to these days as ‘nesting’, the period before a child’s birth when the mother goes into a frenzy of organization and beautifying, painting the nursery, cleaning the floor, preparing the room.
I am convinced my impending appliance arrival is no coincidence for this season. I am desperate to hear from God, to make room for his answers in my life, a soul-deep clearing out to welcome Him.
Like the birth of the Christ Child to come, the answers I seek for all that concerns me may arrive in an unexpected package. But now that I’ve made a way to see, preparing room with the physical space has allowed an emptying in the best way, that I might be ready to receive His word to me.
I can sit in this season when the world around me is physically gray and dark, but I look forward to the Light to come.
What will you make room for today?
More of Kimberlee Ireton’s work is on her blog here.