Advent, the season of growing light. The season of growing hope. The season of waiting for the celebration of the birth of Christ—and ultimately, waiting for His Second Coming. A holy time, Advent. But then, every moment is holy, unless sullied or outright desecrated—as Douglas Kaine McKelvey has so beautifully helped us think about in his book Every Moment Holy.
This Advent, in the midst of my end-of-semester professor’s grading of student papers (all so interesting and worthy), in the aftermath of torrential rains that have recently hammered and flooded parts of my province of British Columbia with a vengeance unimagined by most of us, and just in the midst of a very hurting and divided world, well, I pause to consider a marvellous event that happened last Advent. A space for gratitude. Our Advent miracle. With my wonderful colleagues, Drs. Sara L. Pearson and Laura N. Van Dyke, I co-edited and published a book that saw the light of day this month one year ago! In the midst of many things, the Covid crisis being one of them, this book came to birth in December 2020: The Inklings and Culture: A Harvest of Scholarship from the Inklings Institute of Canada. Twenty-seven chapters from contributors.
(Check out the contributors—a beautiful mix of well-known and new scholars:
Addressing the famous group of seven: George MacDonald, G.K. Chesterton, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Charles Williams, Owen Barfield, Dorothy L. Sayers. Five critical appraisals. Much celebration last Advent and ongoing. Our Advent miracle.
And now one year later, what have I learned from working on this book? Some thoughts from our blog in March 2021:
“It takes a village to raise a child, and it takes a warm, wise, and wide-reaching community to develop a fellowship of scholars like the Inklings Institute of Canada.”
Oh my, yes. I’m not sure why anyone would wish to try to be a lone ranger. (I say “try” because, I believe, nobody is that in truth.) And again, why would you wish to be a lone ranger (if you could) when all the fun is in being connected with your community locally, nationally, and internationally? And as for this book, I knew with certainty that it would not have come about if my brilliant, kind, and visionary colleagues had not shared the load with me. As for community, wow, this is what the Inklings and friends were all about and this is what we’re all about in the Inklings Institute of Canada. We do community really well! Live events on campus and elsewhere, virtual participation also, conferences, coffee chats, prayers, laughter, sometimes tears, food, stories, music—we do community really well. How else could we get anything done? Anything that we loved doing? Anything that anybody else loved?
“Good things take time, but sometimes miracles accelerate the process.”
Amen to that. This book, like all good things, took time. If you tend to impatience, like me, then you’ll know all about that jerking at the tether when things don’t happen according to your preferred schedule. The proper unfolding of events in the twin tether of time and space is not quite our favourite idea. But then, oh, glorious, just when you think something is maybe not going to come about at all (because you’re still struggling with impatience, among other rotten things), the miracle happens. The job is done! And you truly know that the energies invested which you thought were yours solo (lone ranger problem), but were mightily infused with the heavenly source of all energy, and then, ta-da! the perfect opening of doors followed—all this birthed the miracle. In hindsight, it happened faster than you could have guessed. (Meanwhile, the naysayers have all vanished, which is what they should have done in the first place—there’s my impatience again. But let’s remember too: naysayers have their place: they can make you stronger and when that happens you get to prove them wrong. Double-bonus. But don’t get too proud about it. Maybe you can’t quite or shouldn’t say, “I told you so.” But you might whisper, “I’m glad I didn’t listen to you, not very much anyway.”) So YAY, the job is done! Big WOW. And you got to have a part in it—how amazing is that! You end up shaking your head, wondering how you got invited into the grand dance. I love how Madeleine L’Engle once said that every book has its own angel, its own perfect time for appearance. (At the moment, I don’t recall whether I heard it in one of her live lectures or read it.)
“It’s a humbling thing to read the greats and to grapple with their ideas.”
Indeed. Period. Full-stop. And, from that place of looking up—or back down through the ages, as we all stand on very tall shoulders—no doubt about it, we have so much to learn. There is simply so much to learn that enables, enriches, ennobles (I’m running out of alliteration right now, but you get the point). So, yes, let’s do it! Let’s sit at the feet of the greats. Let’s listen with humility. They have so much to say to us that we really do need to hear. They can help change our lives.
“In working on our book, all of us got that much closer to these authors who could speak hope into a hurting and deeply divided world.”
Well, wow. A very big WOW. What can you honestly try to do and say in and to a world that is hurting so much? And that is so deeply divided that many of us, perhaps, are afraid to say anything at all? There’s a whole lot of self-censorship happening today, for all sorts of reasons, so much so that we are numbed at times into believing that there is nothing one can say, perhaps even nothing that can help. But, not true. So not true. These writers never believed that. They exhibited genuine hope. That’s why we’re still reading them today.
You can read our full blog on the book here:
Wishing you a Blessed Advent, my friends! Wishing you many snapshots of hope this Advent season!
And remember: God wins. Always. No contest: God wins.