Entering Advent in the wilderness feels right in a way I can’t quite capture or describe with words. It is like the perfect blend of butter, onion, celery, and sage in stuffing—full of comfort and longing all in one bite. I imagine the Israelites hearing Isaiah preach of God’s promise to call them to the mountain-top. A time to look down on the beauty of creation, to beat swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks. A time where the wilderness will no longer be wild but can be cultivated by weapons resurrected as tools. This vision is the longing of Advent.
A longing that looks back at yesterday to honor what was and looks forward to what could be.
This palpable, palatable longing first visited me Thanksgiving evening. Shortly after arriving at my sister’s, she asked if I would make the gravy. Gravy has been a nemesis at our Thanksgivings the last five or so years. The challenge of timing and texture were mastered by my Grandmother. Like most family recipes, when she passed, so did her mastery. I remember watching her mix the turkey drippings and flour in the bottom of the roasting pan. Her pointer-finger, the measure stick and sample spoon, would evaluate when it was just right.
So when my sister turned to me and asked if I would make the gravy, since according to her, the gravy I made three years ago was good, I accepted. I used a pot rather than the roasting pan and ended up supplementing with a jar of gravy. (How else could one ever make enough gravy for 25 people?) But somehow it came together. As I quickly whisked the flour and the drippings, I knew I had found the mountain-top for a moment in the wilderness. Now my index-finger would be both measuring stick and sample spoon. Now I, too, could flavor a meal with comfort and longing.