Saturday, December 15, 2012

Expectant in Bethlehem: Saturday of the Second Week of Advent

Send out your light and your truth, that they may lead me,
   and bring me to your holy hill
   and to your dwelling.
  Psalm 43:3

“Why is one of them pink?”

“It’s not pink, it’s rose.”

“Ok, so why is one of them rose?”

“It’s for Rose Sunday,” I say with a sense of incredulity. How can he not know that on the third Sunday of Advent we light a rose candle?

“Well, where is the white one?” My husband queries.

“What white one?”

“The one that goes in the center…”

The conversation surrounded the creation of our first mutual Advent wreath, many years ago. It was not the first difference of practice we had encountered as we endeavored to build a household together. I was mystified by his continued practice of putting the milk on the wrong shelf in the refrigerator. After all, everyone knows where the milk belongs.

And everyone knows what a proper Advent wreath looks like. Except everyone doesn’t. I grew up with three purple and one rose candle. He grew up with the white Christ candle in the center. Neither of us had ever encountered the other. A white candle in the middle? Really? Could that work? Apparently so.  It can even work circled by three purple and one rose candle.

As we prepare to light the rose candle this year, more than twenty Advent wreaths later, I pause to consider how little I know about what really matters. Our life together continues to be a series of new discoveries, negotiations and encounters with the other. We offer surprising illuminations to one another. And there remains mystery that invites exploration. Like the mystery surrounding the one whose coming this season heralds. After all, encountering the other is what we are preparing for as we light these candles.