Dark Skies

The season of Advent—literally “arrival”—is upon us. In the Christian tradition, this is a time of darkness, expectation, and waiting.

We don’t hear much about Advent from advertisers. It’s easier to jump straight to the celebration.

Let’s just arrive.

I get it. Waiting seems almost impossible given the reality of 2017: political upheaval, mass shootings, natural disasters, environmental degradation, nuclear arsenals.

On good days, I try to remember that 2017 has spurred more civic action than I’ve seen in my lifetime. Newspapers have been resurrected. Women’s voices are being heard in a new way.

But, my hope for our country has seen better days. I’m tired of waiting for a course correction. Everyone I know is just as tired.

And still, Advent invites a childlike willingness to wait with open arms for a better reality than the one we occupy now.

One Advent, when my daughter was six years old, she began coloring bright yellow stars in dark skies. Gone were ballerinas, princesses, and family portraits. She was preoccupied with stars. I sensed her wonder as she handed me her creations, the dark night illumined by far away light.

That memory makes me want to ditch my 2017 dread and replace it with a dose of wonder. I’ve begun stepping outside after dark to witness the night sky. I want more silence. I want to listen more than speak, and observe more than act. I want to count my blessings and be kind to myself.

Author Wayne Mueller says, “The human spirit is naturally generous; the instant we are filled, our first impulse is to be useful, to be kind, to give something away.”

In this spirit, during Advent and the inaugural month of our new blog, we’re going to post about simple kindnesses for the self. We invite your thoughts and ideas, and when 2018 dawns, we’ll widen our discussion of kindness—we hope—with a renewed sense of purpose.

We’re curious: how do you show yourself kindness?