Advent: Waiting for the Light

God comes to us like the sun in the morning—when it is time.”—Carlo Carretto, The God Who Comes

My favorite time of any day is the pre-dawn moments before the light comes. The world is dark and quiet, stretching out before me in a hopeful sort of way. Having just awakened from sleep, I am alert enough to savor everything—the dance of light and shadow in the yard, the breeze that plays through the wind chime on the porch, the warmth of a favorite coffee mug, the comfort of a blanket against the cold. 

The nearness of God seems especially real in these early hours.  As I wait for the light, time feels rich and abundant—full of possibility!—rather than scarce and limited and impossible. In the absence of stimulation—before any words have been spoken—my soul is calm and clear like the stillness of a quiet pond. There is never any doubt that the light will come; just a sense of quiet anticipation for something I know will happen because it happens every day. Without fail.

Being There When the Light Comes

As wonderful as it is to wake up to the light of a new day, morning solitude has taught me that it is even better to be there when the light comes. Being there helps me “make contact” with this God who comes and is always coming… like the sun… when it is time. It helps me find my true-self-in-God again.

Advent is a season for waking up to all the ways Christ comes to us. Yes, the themes of Advent help us celebrate and commemorate his first coming in the Incarnation. They encourage us to anticipate his second coming in glory—of course! But there is also such a thing as the third coming of Christ: that is, all the ways in which Jesus comes to us now, bringing light for our darkness, peace for our turmoil, hope for our despair.

“Come, let us walk in the light of the Lord!” 

This Advent, let’s practice waiting for the light and then walking into our days awake to that light, watchful and more attuned to the ways in which Christ comes to us now. Sitting quietly in the pre-dawn hours waiting for the light to come—almost imperceptible at first—is a way to practice waiting and watching for the coming of the Son into every nook and cranny of our lives. 

In the early morning hours throughout the Advent season, contemplate how you are being asked to open yourself to this One who comes amid your everyday activities. Be prepared to meet your grace in every circumstance. As our Gospel reading for this week proclaims, “The Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour” and we certainly don’t want to miss the moment because we were asleep at the wrong time. 

An Advent Practice 

With open hands, ready to receive, perhaps we could begin with this prayer…and then just sit and wait for light of Jesus to illuminate everything around us. 

O holy God, open unto us light for our darkness, courage for our fear, hope for our despair.
O God of peace, open to us peace for our turmoil, joy for our sorrow, strength for our weakness.
O generous God, open our hearts to receive all your gifts.

Click for complete Advent calendar (Cycle A) and guidance on using the lectionary.

Keep exploring Advent

Ruth Haley Barton

Ruth (Doctor of Divinity, Northern Seminary) is Founder and Chief Essence Officer of the Transforming Center. A teacher, seasoned spiritual director (Shalem Institute), and retreat leader, Ruth is the author of numerous books and resources on the spiritual life including Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership, Sacred Rhythms, Life Together in Christ, Pursuing God’s Will Together, Invitation to Solitude and Silence, Invitation to Retreat, and Embracing Rhythms of Work and Rest (Oct 2022).
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Dear Ruth, thank you so much for this very meaningful reflection! Advent is one of my favorite times of year and you’ve given me some great thoughts on how I can be reflecting! Do you mind writing back to tell me the name of the poem that you read at the end of the podcast? Also what was the name of the book that had information about Henry Nouwen? Thanks again for your amazing shepherding ministry!

You’re welcome! The poem does not have a title but it is from Tides and Seasons by David Adam. The book about Henri Nouwen is Eternal Seasons by Michael Ford.

Dear Ruth
This Advent 1 reflection is spiritually enriching.
May I use your Advent reflections at my church?
I would be grateful. Thanks.

For permissions please e-mail Thanks!

Beautiful illustration! I’m very thankful for your sharing.

So glad this was meaningful…

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