Longing as a Spiritual Practice


I came to understand the season of Advent only a few years ago. My hygge-loving self instantly resonated with the soft and intentional practice of expectation. Of looking forward to. Of presence.

On my last birthday I wrote that this upcoming year of life would be my Year of Presence. In ways I could not have known it has become so, and more. It has become a year of gentle longing. Of longing as a spiritual practice.

This morning a dove landed on the railing outside.

I heard her voice first and swept aside the window-covering of crimson.

Windows.*

Advent.


I saw her there, less than ten feet away. I recall the words, the urgency, the deep and profound love: Winter is past, the holy one said, and I wept in the dark. That spring the doves came and nestled outside my bedroom window with lullabies that went up like prayers—

Winter is past. The rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth. The time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.

The past few months I've been writing about biblical prophecy and the last days. I've shared that I'm awkwardly finding my voice in this, and it's been quite a dramatic shift from what I wrote about before. There is intensity here. Urgency. But above all else is the most tender of longings...

Come, thou long expected.

I haven't known what to do with all of this, really. I am a writer who goes through long and frequent seasons of wordlessness and uncertainty around language.

I appreciate the element of ritual which helps me incarnate what I can't explain. Such as the lighting of a candle before I begin. Morning prayers. Stillness. My husband leaving for work and coming home again. A refill of coffee and fresh splash of almond milk. Being in my beingness. Moments, like rocks along a path to mark a trail: you are here, and this is what is happening, and in an hour you can expect this. Like drawing a line to connect the dots of something bigger. More vast. Something that cannot be seen or felt all at once. They are rhythms and rituals that help me create a space, a container, for what I experience and explore. Even when I don't have perfect words.

Only presence.

And comfort, if I'm honest. When you know the general shape of things, you can fill in the rest and even make space for a burst of spontaneity—yes, even mystery. Hello, mystery. You go here.

When life doesn't comply to the politeness of ordinary things, it is like being knocked off your feet. The unexpected can do that. You might remember my launches planned earlier this year, offerings I loved and could not wait to share with you, created for those like me—spiritual creatives who are women of the deep rivers. Who long to create lives that are meaningful and resonant. And then things changed. I literally could not bring forth. It's like my hands fell to my sides, limp. I am not a “forcer.” And so it sits quietly now with all of the things I cannot hold.

Yet the rhythms remain. They came to me and I remembered them. They came to me, gently re-shaping and restoring the flesh and bones of my life. They came to me with tenderness and fire. I forever love the words of John O'Donohue—“Once the soul awakens, the search begins and you can never go back. From then on, you are inflamed with a special longing that will never again let you linger in the lowlands of complacency and partial fulfillment. The eternal makes you urgent. You are loath to let compromise or the threat of danger hold you back from striving toward the summit of fulfillment.”

Yes and yes and yes. Longing.

Come, thou long expected.
...this I know,
That in my flesh I shall see God,
Whom I shall see for myself,
And my eyes shall behold, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me!
—Job 19:25-27

It has become a bone-wrenching cry.

Come, thou long expected.

Beloved. Come.

Primordial. Sweat-drenched. Yes. Whole-body-weeping, whole-body-joy—they are my rhythms and rituals of praise. Of hunger and desire and want. Of primal-soul yearnings. Of all-consuming fire.

Longing.