First Sunday of Advent: Preparing Spiritual Whitespace
Advent Sunday One 2021 Year C – Luke 21:25-28,34-36 –
Discerning the signs of the times proposes that we should ask ourselves questions about current trends of a world in making, about the place and the role attributed to each one of us as the family of humanity, about the meaning and dignity of all life.
Such discernment begins by creating a positive space-time to breathe, a time to put aside our grievance, a time to let go of the anxieties of life with all the burdens we carry, and a time to prepare. Jesus’ admonition to this time is the way to hold fast to hope, to hold our heads high in the face of anxiety and fear.
For many of us, years may flow together with all the many preparations we have made, preparations for holidays, preparations for celebrations, preparations for exams and performances, preparations for the living, and preparations for the dead. These merge as the years pass, until all we have time only for the preparations for today, for this day. Yet, for many the preparations of this day will not be fulfilled.
For all too many of us, even for those who are elderly or sickly, the moment of death and transition will come suddenly, will come unexpectedly, and will find us unprepared. A moment that may find us clutching and grasping at all those people and things that we must leave behind. All our pride, all our prestige, all our wealth, all our honours, all we have hoarded, all our finely robed identity, all… all… all we will have to lay aside. “And Desire said: ‘I did not see you descending but now I see you ascending. Why then do you lie, since you belong to me?’ The soul answered and said: ‘I saw you, but you did not see me nor recognise me. I was to you simply a garment and you did not know me.’”
Yet there is something that all too often we do strive to take with us.
Stand at the death bed and witness. So many that still carry the burdens of grievance, the burdens of un-forgiveness, and all the resentment of pain and loss. These are indeed are the powers of wrath that block us from entering the kingdom of God, here on earth as in heaven above.
As we gaze around us at the powers and values of this world, we become aware that so many of us have stopped valuing the idea of rest. We have lost sight of the fact that it’s a critical part of all creativity. It’s a critical part of our health and it’s a critical part of our faith. “ln repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it”.
Let us open our hearts to experience rest with Jesus. Let us ask the Holy Spirit to help us explore and come to understand how past experiences have contributed to the stress and wounds that affect our life right now.
Let us move into that vulnerability of love by admitting the brokenness we experience.
Let us become aware that our emotions are constantly changing, and sometimes lead us away from Jesus, away from communion, away from Eucharist, away from gratitude and into that separateness of our own illusions. It is in and through the Eucharist that we overcome our fear of rejection and our fear of being known and loved.
Let us recover those pieces of ourselves that we have been abandoned, the broken pieces of our life that we have suppressed yet may give us new insights into our true identity as God’s beloved.
Let us rid ourselves of stress that we were never meant to handle by taking care of ourselves physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually by identifying the sources of stress and asking God to help us deal with each one and by sharing faith stories with other people whom we trust while supporting each other through both good and bad times.
This preparation calls on us to spend regular time in quiet and solitude. When we are quiet and by ourselves, the deepest thoughts and questions can surface so that we can wrestle with them in prayer with God. Write, sing, draw, cook, build, program, garden, or do any other creative activity that you sense God leading you to do to create more beauty in the world. The wind at dawn has secrets to whisper, don’t go back to sleep! RUMI