let us go out into the fields
and lodge in the villages;
let us go out early to the vineyards
and see whether the vines have budded,
whether the grape blossoms have opened
and the pomegranates are in bloom.
Song of Songs 7:11-12
The Bible passage comes first today, because it sets that tone of anticipation so well. Let's go see! Are there buds yet? Are the flowers starting to open? Is anything in full bloom?
I love the anticipation of spring flowers. First the dainty bobbing snowdrops, then the rainbow spikes of crocuses and the golden trumpets of daffodils. Then the trees get in on the act. The ornamental cherry with its over-exuberance of pink fluffy blossom is my favourite, and the waxy white magnolia which lasts for too short a time. Every year the same pattern, and every year something new to look forward to.
Anticipation increases the pleasure of the thing itself, doesn't it? Graham has done most of the planning for the past few holidays we have been on, and I have anticipated them just enough to scramble the appropriate quantity of clean clothes into a suitcase! But I know I've missed out by not getting a picture of the place in advance. Where's our hotel? Which beach should we go to? How do we get to that attraction? What's the history? All these things come together and you start to get excited about actually seeing them in reality. Otherwise, the trip creeps up on you and you find yourself on the plane, asking your husband, "So where is this place again?'
|Or, you know, you can just turn up and start digging.|
And that so easily happens with Christmas. Suddenly it's Christmas Eve. "What's this Christmas thing about again?"
Advent is the tailor-made way to build anticipation. We open a door every day on our Advent calendars. We burn a numbered candle down, or watch as another candle in the wreath is lit every Sunday. We start to sing the carols, read the stories. Like the spring flowers, the pattern is the same every year, but each time something different. Like the holiday planning, we gain a feel for the geography and history, and long to see the reality. And when Christmas arrives, we know what it's about. We're ready.