Advent 1: The Vigil Kept for Us

By Jan Richardson

Heart Coming HomeImage: Heart Coming Home © Jan Richardson

Reading from the Gospels, Advent 1, Year A: Matthew 24.36-44

Keep awake.
—Matthew 24.42

As Advent has approached once again, I have had vigils on my mind. Three years ago, as Advent began, we were nearing the end of the vigil we had kept for my husband following his fateful surgery. Gary died on the second day of Advent, forever altering the way I enter into this season of expectation.

When we have had an experience of waiting that ended in devastation instead of joy, when we have kept a vigil that drew us into grief instead of celebration, it can be difficult to know just how to navigate the call that lies at the heart of Advent: to wait, to watch, to wake.

This year, as Advent begins and I wonder about what it means to wait, I cannot shake the sense that there is a vigil being kept for me: that I am being waited for, that I am being watched over, that there is one who lingers at the edge of my awareness, breathing with me and blessing me as I move through these days.

Advent asks us to keep vigil for the Christ who comes to us anew in this season. It invites us to keep our face turned toward the horizon in hope. But Advent asks us also to open our hearts to the Christ who keeps vigil for us, the Christ who stands not on some distant horizon but, instead, is already with us, waiting for us to open our eyes to his presence that stays with us always.

As Advent begins, may you be blessed in your vigil: the one you keep, the one being kept for you. In that vigil, may you find your deepest welcome and know yourself at home. Peace.

Blessing the House of the Heart

If you could see
how this blessing
shimmers inside you,
you would never wonder
whether there will be
light enough,
time enough,
room enough for you.

If you could see
the way this blessing
has inscribed itself
on every wall
of your heart,
writing its shining line
across every doorway,
tracing the edge
of every window
and table
and hall—

if you could see this,
you would never question
where home is
or whether it has
a welcome for you.

This blessing wishes
to give you
a glimpse.
It will not tell you
it has been waiting.
It will not tell you
it has been keeping watch.
It would not
want you to know
just how long
it has been holding
this quiet vigil
for you.

It simply wants you
to see what it sees,
wants you to know
what it knows—
how this blessing
already blazes in you,
illuminating every corner
of your broken
and beautiful heart.

—Jan Richardson
from The Cure for Sorrow

The Cure for SorrowJUST RELEASED!

A blessing meets us in the place of our deepest loss. In that place, it gives us a glimpse of wholeness and claims that wholeness here and now. —from the Introduction

Jan’s much-anticipated new book enters with heartbreaking honesty into the rending that loss brings. It moves, too, into the unexpected shelters of solace and hope, inviting us to recognize the presence of love that, as she writes, is “sorrow’s most lasting cure.”

Order the Book


Using Jan’s artwork…
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Using Jan’s words…
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16 Responses to “Advent 1: The Vigil Kept for Us”

  1. Christy Says:

    Beautiful words. Thank you!

  2. Vonda Says:

    I just love this so much, Jan. All I can do is read it over and over again, saying each time thank you.

  3. Phil Ewing Says:

    Gorgeous. Many blessings for Advent.

  4. Evelyn Augusto Says:

    The writing has a “not of this world quality”. It makes me wonder: Who, really is holding the pen?

    Many thanks from
    Evelyn @
    A Place For Catholics Who Care
    Read: Not The Same Old Christmas

  5. Carolyn Says:


  6. Christy Price Says:

    Waiting and praying, for us all…

  7. Christine Says:

    Inspiring words! I hope to quote you in my Icon blog this month, if that’s ok?

    • Jan Richardson Says:

      Christine, thank you, and absolutely! Thank you for your beautiful work. Blessings and much gratitude to you.

  8. Kathy Guisewite Says:

    Oh, thank you, Jan. Balm to the soul in so many ways.
    Much love,

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