So now it's here, December 24th. We have arrived. Arriving - is that more than coming? Somehow yes, because arriving implies that you are moving towards a target. And now? Now you are there, ok.
Over a period of 10 years I hiked in 8 different stages (from 5 to 10 day tours) from the south of France, from Arles on a total distance of approx. 1,800 km to Santiago de Compostela. In July 2013 I happily walked through the pilgrim's gate onto the forecourt of the cathedral. I was already a little prepared for it through reports from other pilgrims: After the euphoria, the feeling of happiness at having made it - there is first of all a great emptiness. For several days (many pilgrims walk the path over several weeks in one go) you had the same rhythm, what counted was the path and where you stayed the next night - and then suddenly that was over.
Some then walk on to the nearby Atlantic coast, to Finisterre, the "end of the world" - so do I. But the pilgrimage has not "ended" for me since then. There are pilgrimage routes all over Europe and I can always start again somewhere, not far from my front door!
So back to the deeper meaning of Advent, the arrival at one of the highest holidays in Christianity. Arriving in Advent means: mastering a stage, engaging in something that comes to an end - so that something new can be born.
We would all really like to wish that something would end, especially this year, and that we would return to normal in January after the Christmas holidays, with new motivation, new strength.
Everything goes on - that which is "different", after a turning point, we only find within ourselves. And that is also the special quality in Advent, which I have tried to revive with a few articles in my Advent calendar: pause, with a different view of what is coming to an end and a different view of what is coming. It is our own senses that we align with a little mindfulness, reflection and a new focus in the Advent season and in the rough nights between the years.
The "new" is not necessarily "better". We can very happily wish each other that the next year should be "better" - and this time there is a relatively high chance that things will actually be "better". But what I actually wish for, both for myself and for all my loved ones, for humanity on the whole planet: That we open our hearts and our compassion for a different, resilient way of dealing with all the big and small challenges, which the pandemic will certainly bring us in the next 12 months. I wish all of us a strengthened mental immune power so that we can approach our life "differently" time and again with courage and ease - with love and from the heart.