So, is it possible to ‘slow down’ in Advent? Speaking for myself, it’s unlikely. My personal schedule is largely tied to the church schedule and there are a number of important, enjoyable and moving events around the corner starting with the Fair this weekend, December 6th, the Hospice Tree of Life here at the church on Dec. 7th, the NECT Concert Choir Concert that same weekend, the Pageant on the 21st and into the beautiful Christmas Eve services. In between are the family and personal obligations that echo all of yours. Is there time for reflection?
Not a lot. At least in the classic sense. Yet I’m challenged by Joan Chittister’s words in the introduction to her book, Illuminated Life. “We spend life too tired to garden, too distracted to read, too busy to talk, too plagued by people and deadlines to organize our lives, to reflect on our futures, to appreciate the present. We simply go on, day after day. Where is what it means to be human in all of that? Where is God in all of that?… Where can we go for a model of another way to live when we have no choice but to live the way we do?” This is even further complicated when we are living with disease or hardship or job uncertainty.
Her response is to remind us that it is in where we are, in the very busy lives we live, that God is found. It may be that we find God more easily in quiet, in distant places, in special environments. I can think of some of my own “retreat” spots. But we cannot always go there. How do we find meaning here? Chittester quotes Abba Sisoes (one of the Desert Mystics) “Seek God, and not where God lives.” “We live and breathe, grow and develop in the womb of God… the life that is full of light knows that God is not ‘over there’, God is here. And for the taking”. God is here and for the taking. God is available, accessible. This is at the very heart of the Christmas event, Emmanuel present with us. We can reach out and touch God in him. More importantly, God is reaching out and touching us, if we would notice it. Happy Christmas. Dave