I wrote an article about the Advent Conspiracy that’s now up at the Relevant website:
Four miles from my house, atop the highest hill in the area, sits a Benedictine monastery. A dozen cement-and-brick buildings encircle the hilltop, including the church, abbey, retreat house, library and seminary. I don’t think I can see my house from the monastery, but on clear days, which are rare enough in western Oregon this time of year, I can get a 360-degree view of the valley, encompassing hundreds of square miles of farms, fields, nurseries and small forests of Christmas trees. I am an oblate novice at the monastery.
I don’t do a good job of remembering to pray for my Benedictine neighbors, but I know they are praying for me. Six times a day, the monks offer praise and thanksgiving to God through the Liturgy of the Hours. They pray for the region, and I like to think of the monastery as a lighthouse that has been pulsing in this dark corner of the world for nearly 130 years.
Christmas is my favorite time of year to visit the monastery, and I woke up early one morning to attend and early service. “Everlasting joy shall be upon their heads,” the monks sing. “They shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.” And later: “He has sent us a mighty Savior / from the royal line of his servant David, just as he promised …” Joan Chittister describes Advent as “the season that teaches us to wait for what is beyond the obvious.” Beyond the obvious is God entering the world as flesh, blood and bone. The response is jubilation. Thus, the pivot of history is proclaimed: “I am bringing you good news of great joy.”