When I was growing up in the church, the seasonal color for Advent was purple, the same color for the season of Lent. I suppose that was a way to recognize the yin and yang nature of those two seasons. In one, we are preparing for the arrival of Christ into our lives. The other is the slow march toward his death culminating in his resurrection.
Now, we light blue candles at Advent, a nod to the Virgin Mary, and to give it its own, distinctive color in our color-coded church calendar.
Thus far, for me, this Advent has felt more like a melding of blue and purple into an indigo. A turbulent indigo at that. I've been restless, and sensing a certain restlessness around me.
So, it was only appropriate that I was listening to that particular Joni Mitchell CD as I drove home along the backroads of rural southwest Georgia after meeting with my spiritual director. The lyrics to some of the songs are such an important commentary on our times, and in many ways, to the darkness and brokenness of the world: border lines, within families and communities, that divide people; the gas leaks and the oil spills; and the discarding of women who are victims of violence. There is plenty of hurt to go around as the stores play their hopped-up version of the season: "Hark! The many merchants shout, 'Buy it now before we're out!'"
As part of my session with my SD, we discussed Advent and how I wasn't feeling like I was in a happy-happy, joy-joy space. She noted this isn't necessarily a joyful season if we're paying attention. There is a birth about to happen, not only in our story of Christ, but in our own lives as well. We are preparing to give birth to a new self. And with that, there will be death of the old self, old habits, old ways that no longer serve a purpose. Birth, she said, changes everything.
And that might be the thing that is at the root of my turbulent indigo. I'm not pregnant, not physically at least, but in a sense I am moving through a kind of pregnancy of Spirit. All the work I've been doing with my SD...coupled with the everything that I have done with others and my practice of daily prayer, centering, and reading has been like the refiner's fire and the fuller's soap. And that process doesn't come without some pain as I go through another round of change. Perhaps this is why I am suffering with a head cold that is leading to laryngitis. Perhaps I need to silent my voice and listen more closely to another's?
And I think of the first line of one of the songs on Turbulent Indigo:
Let me speak
Let me spit out my bitterness...
But first, let me get my voice back.