Accelerated change in our culture means we are usually people in transition. At any given time we are somewhere on the change continuum, adapting to a series of small changes while simultaneously acclimating to big ones. We often adjust to a succession of changes while anticipating others.
As individuals, our days don’t follow the distinct rhythm of Ordinary Time and Advent, seasoned with Feasts and Fasts. That we still have these liturgical seasons is a gift from the saints who, for centuries, guarded the sanity-preserving, cultural-balancing traditions so that we may still step into an ancient world that moves at an antidotal pace.
The Church’s long season of Ordinary Time instills desire for a new, fresh experience of Mass. Since liturgical time is communicated not by clock or calendar but by color, I yearn to see movement from Ordinary green, to Advent and Lenten purple, punctuated with white on feast days and black on solemn occasions. A change in color suggests something new is just around the corner.
Isn’t it the same in nature? Yellow daffodils alert us to the passing of winter and the coming of spring. Lilacs suggest the more subtle change from spring to summer. Red and gold leaves blare out the news that raucous autumn is in town and intends to have a ball until the first flurries of white snow.
I’ve been waiting for much-desired change for a very long time. There’s little to suggest its arrival any time soon. Taking a cue from my faith tradition and Mother Nature, I decided to change color. Hair color.
Long before there was a single strand of gray, I colored my hair. For the most part, natural auburn highlights have been picked up and used for an all over color. Oh, there have been times of returning to somewhere in the brunette range, but I drift back to auburn in short order. Not this time.
The young woman who cuts my hair wanted to color it blonde. Not a dark blonde that’s more like light brown. B.L.O.N.D.E. Why not? I’m desperate for a change. What woman hasn’t expressed such a desire with a dramatic shift in color or cut? Change your hair, change your life!
The change in hair color, like the change from liturgical green to purple, kicked off a season of preparation. I’m starting to think ahead to that time when I’ll once again celebrate the joyous Feast of Full-Time Employment (complete with a King’s College Choir accompaniment). What can I do now to prepare for then? How do I live in the present moment while anticipating a time that is not yet?
It is the season of Advent, and I’ve got a change in color to prove it.
A voice cries out: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” A voice says, “Cry out!” And I said, “What shall I cry?” All people are grass, their constancy is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the Lord blows upon it; surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand forever. Isaiah 40:3-7 NRSV (Old Testament reading for the second Sunday in Advent.)