I've come to love Advent more and more. Especially the beginning when the readings and prayers make it clear that we're not yet 'preparing for Christmas' but looking forward in hope to the coming of the Lord in glory. Advent invites us to contemplate the in-between-ness of our existence, living as we do after the first coming of Jesus Christ and before the second.
But we don't push this dichotomy too far, for in our spiritual life, our mystical life, the incarnation of the Word and the parousia of Jesus Christ turn out to coincide; the Bridegroom of our souls is always arriving by grace.
That's why Jesus in the Gospel we have this year for the first Sunday of Advent exhorts us to "Be watchful! Be alert!" (Mark 13:33) By quiet prayer we cultivate a watchfulness, a mindfulness in our minds and hearts, so that we may notice the graces our daily lives present to us, the graces that Providence puts in our path at each moment.