I’ve been told that Advent is supposed to be a little Lent. I heard it for the first time last year and my whole being gave a resounding NO. Lent is penitential. Lent is struggle. Lent is hard. That’s not how Advent is supposed to be, right? Maybe it’s because of where I grew up, maybe it’s because my all time favorite sister’s birthday is Christmas Day, but starting November 1st there’s only one thing I want to ask every. single. person.
However, while there are problems with this attitude, in a sense it is the main point of Advent. Are you ready for Christmas? Have you prepared for Christ? That second question is what finally connected Lent and Advent for me. Both Lent and Advent are times of spiritual preparation and cleansing, even though they feel very different. I’ve found the best way to understand their differences and similarities is to compare them to cleaning my house.
Lent is like a deep, Spring clean (how nice that they occur in the same season!). It’s when you are sitting on your couch and notice that corner that you forgot existed and is full of cobwebs. You clean those, and then realize the baseboards that used to be white are now… not white. After cleaning those you realize something else is dirty and clean that and the cycle continues till your house is once again ready for Better Homes. Lent is when we deep clean our souls because they need it. Advent, while similar, is slightly different.
Advent is like when my bestie, Katie, comes to visit. I make sure everything is spotless, I put out new throw pillows, I make sure the house smells nice, and when it gets close to time for her to be there I can’t stop looking out the window for her. It is definitely not the deep clean I described before, though that process may show me a dirty corner or two that I need to address, but it is a cleansing and a ‘zhuj-ing’.
Lent is a deep cleaning out of necessity, Advent is cleaning in preparation and anticipation. We are naturally excited during this time, but we shouldn’t forget to prepare for the One who is coming.
It makes me think of last week’s Gospel. We prepare, so that we can watch.