Welcome to the third week of Advent which began yesterday with the lighting of the third Advent candle. As we moving into this week our anticipation and longing grows and we yearn with deepening expectation for Christmas Day and the coming of the Christ child.
First for those that are just joining this journey you can check out the scriptures for the week here:
For those that have not been able to keep up with the many rich and varied reflections you can check those from Advent weeks 1 and 2 here
Today’s reflection which expresses beautifully this longing comes from Tara Malouf. Tara is a photographer in Seattle Washington. One of her phtographic goals at weddings, with family or children is to capture the connections and relationships in a photojournalistic style. She is also the producer of the Story-formed calendar, a unique calendar that revolves around the liturgical calendar
My family and I take an Advent pilgrimage of sorts each year. It happens around our dinner table as we slowly take a journey toward Bethlehem. We open the pages of the Scriptures and wander with the friends we find within – from creation to the birth of Jesus. This year I have been struck with a question that Christine Sine asked…”What are we waiting for this Advent season?“ I took the question and mixed it with the point of view of being in the middle of the story of the Scriptures, and here is my answer:
I stand on the edge of unformed worlds and watch them come into being. I see light, brilliant color and exquisite detail. I hear rushing waters, animals calling to one another and the sound of footsteps on the gravel. I hear the words “it is VERY good” and those words are forever imprinted upon my psyche. They churn in me images of intimacy with the Creator, my fellow bipeds and all creation. I taste joy and sweet glory dripping off this newborn terrestrial ball.
Then tears…the sound of pitiful weeping and the thud of an apple falling to the ground. The taste in my mouth turns bitter with pride, shame, hiding and toil. I feel the jolt of a planet askew in its orbit. I must squint for the light has dimmed, my eyes relegated to the spectrum of shadows. I feel the stabbing pain of jealousy, murder, arrogance, love of self. I am disoriented with the rest of the planet. I have become “homo incurvatus in se ipsum” – man bent in on himself. I am trapped and only a whisper of “it is good” lies below audible frequencies in the regions of my heart.
I am hot and weary from wandering a planet that does not cooperate with me. I hear promises and I hope; I trust…I long. I celebrate moments of light when the “very good” seems to well up almost to crescendo but then…always falls flat.
I walk, I lie, I settle down, I am oppressed, I am delivered, I run back to tyrannical idols. I obey, I distrust, I watch generations die, I hope, I am faithful, I disobey. I watch leaders rise and fall, I cry in agony, I am carted off to foreign lands, I watch God be faithful, I am deafened by His silence. And I wait…I long…for that “very good” rhythm.
I hear the sound of weeping again and this time find my face and hands wet with tears. I cry as a sojourner in a strange land. I hear the words of the prophets and they stir my soul awake with words of justice, wholeness, and intonations of “very good”. My tongue, so used to bitterness, perceives ever so slightly, the taste of joy once again.
Then I hear nothing….
Heavy weighted under this unbearable nothingness lies my hope. It is suffocating – being executed by the crushing weight. In its final breath, a single Baby’s cry rings out and shatters the grip of this oppressive foe. The weary planet shudders and takes, at long last, a gasp of fresh air. The Baby’s cries reverberate to the outer edges of the universe and command the attention of a King. The planet stands up straighter and a new creation process is put into place.
The Advent journey ends here for many, but I do not think it should. For we live in the unraveling story outside the pages of the Book – a story not so different from the one gone before. A story of longing and waiting and hope.
Though able to breathe, this planet still wheezes and coughs within its brokenness. It groans for full restoration – for the new creation to be complete. And I stand on its infected skin hearing children crying and people yelling. I feel the pain of wars and hate and cruelty. I, like back at the beginning, still taste the bitterness of sin. I still live with that awkward curvature of my soul.
And I wait…Though I catch glimpses of Reality, I long for this Baby to return in the fullness of His Kingdom. I long for Him to immerse a tired creation once again with the fullness of His glory. I long for peace. I long for a world put to right. I long for the reign of a just King. I long for healing and for joy to be the only flavor in our mouths. I long for rest…for Shalom. And I long to live fully in the dance of “it is VERY good”.
(But Lord, as I wait for Your Son to come again and to make His Kingdom fully established, let me labor to make to make it a present reality- more visible wherever I am. )