You can be confident as Advent begins that God desires to meet you where you are, no matter what kind of shape (or shambles) your life is in. Begin Advent with the whole church by lighting a candle, perhaps on an Advent wreath if you have one. Imagine God sitting near you on the other side of the flame.

Then, as Isaiah does, tell God directly what you want to say. You might start off as Isaiah does by saying who God is for you. “You are our father, redeemer forever.” “You are the potter, and we are the clay, the work of your hands.” Imagine the strong, loving hands that shape your hair, your head, your muscles and limbs. Or you may have your own image for God—as friend, confidante, a whisper . . .

As you read Isaiah and speak to God, notice the intimacy in simply saying “You.” That one name—“You”—may be prayer enough.

You can also meander with Isaiah among your own complaints, questions, regrets, awe. As writer Kathleen Norris points out, the scriptures frequently change in an instant, just as our thoughts and emotions do. A lot or a little may fill your prayer.

The God you await this Advent is already waiting for you. How might you find the time, space, and watchfulness to help you meet?

—Mary Anne Reese is a lawyer, poet, and member of Bellarmine Chapel, a Jesuit parish in Cincinnati, Ohio.