It’s been several weeks since I wrote for a variety of reasons, the main one was I was experiencing a bit of writer’s block. It happens. I hope the wait was worth it for you.
Waiting and filled with expectant hope. This is the message of Advent. Prepare the way for Emanuel – God with us. Every valley will be raised up and every mountain made low.
As I’ve listened to the readings and sermons the past several Sundays, I’ve had a recurring thought and realization. Jesus was born into mess. The Divine Mystery, God, the One, The Presence, the Word dared to become incarnate in mess. Born in a stable among the animals. Born in a world of world politics and rigid religious leaders. (See Luke’s Gospel for the who’s who of politics and religion at the time of Jesus!) This Divine force, this Mystery, this Presence loved Creation so greatly and intently it sought to become like us and become flesh. That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown!
I’ve been asked several times if I’m ready for Christmas to which I reply yes as best as I can be. Then I hear how the inquirer still has to buy for family, the mail carrier and even – the dog groomer. I politely say something like, yes, I still have a couple things to buy too and silently say to myself Oh, I thought you meant was my heart, soul and spirit ready for Christmas?
Are we ever ready for an encounter with the Mystery? We might think we are but I’m always surprised by an encounter with the Holy. For instance, last week, I walked an indoor labyrinth at the Cincinnati Presbyterian church. I was one of 13 who walked “together alone”. The organizers placed a large canvas painted with a Chartres style labyrinth, on the floor of the meeting room. One by one we started our journey to the center, weaving back and forth along the path sometimes walking side by side but always on our own path. My mind harkened back to the reading from Baruch about the valleys being filled and the mountains being made low and Baruch’s exhortation to “take of your robe of mourning and misery” because peace and justice will return. What mourning and misery have you wrapped around yourself which keeps you from knowing peace and justice in your heart? Baruch tells, the obstacles and barriers (mountains) will be removed. As I walked the labyrinth path I asked: What is being made low in me this Advent in preparation for Emanuel?What are the mountains within myself I need to tear down to bring peace and justice? What paths am I willing to walk to create right relationships?
How do I make the path straight? How do we recognize Jesus in our midst? How do we make room for Jesus’ presence?
As one enters the center of a labyrinth, one opens to receive whatever the Divine Presence may offer. I remained in the center for several minutes aware of others with me and others walking the path. As I began my journey back out of the labyrinth, I resolved to accept whatever gifts I might receive. I realized I was carrying LOTS of questions into the labyrinth to which I didn’t have answers. I hope these questions serve as prompts for your own reflections this season.
From time to time this Advent, I’ve run across a page which challenges me about the consumerism of Christmas – New Dream https://newdream.org/about-us Here’s my interpretation of their message – be mindful of your consuming, your buying. Become aware of how your consumption impacts the world. What is my relationship to purchasing and giving? Am I giving gifts which are needed? Do I desire more “things” to fill an empty spot within? What kind of relationship do I have with the “things” in my life? Am I free or attached to “stuff”? Am I giving things instead of my time and attention? I invite you to reflect on these questions. Perhaps others will bubble up for you.
My deepest wish for all of you this Christmas and holiday season is that in the stillness may you encounter the One who is Love and Grace and Joy and Peace.
Merry Christmas! God bless us all everyone!
(This blog is not intended to serve as individual spiritual direction. Spiritual direction or companioning is typically done in a face to face confidential setting. If you would like to explore one on one spiritual direction or your faith community or small group would like to experience group spiritual direction, please contact me. In the meantime, my hope is that the photos and the blog serve as a pause in your day, food for thought or just a reminder to breathe in and breathe out all that is holy and good. The Divine Milieu is all around us. Thank you all for your prayers and support.)