This afternoon’s post comes from Melanie Clark Pullen an actress and writer living in Ireland with her husband and two small children. She blogs every fortnight at The Master’s Artist and intermittently at her own blog Perchance to Dream where she explores spirituality and creativity. She is part of the online arts/faith/culture community Dreamers of the Day and dreams of facilitating a creative retreat centre and a collective of artists who make work that is good for the soul.
Jesus is near – how do we draw close?
Recent events in our political and economic life here in Ireland and an unexpected cold snap in the weather, mean the Irish people are facing a very dark, dismal winter. After fifteen years of prosperity, it seems we’re looking at returning the austerity of the 1980’s only this time, religion will not be the comfort it once was. What with clerical abuse scandals and a broad disconnect with the people, the church, in all its Roman Catholic and Protestant forms, has never had less of a mandate to offer comfort.
And yet, and yet…
Jesus is near.
I wonder will this Christmas be the time when we stop stuffing the stockings with things we can no longer afford and start to meditate on the person behind the holiday. With people looking back with longing for the good old days of the Celtic Tiger and shrinking with dread from our cold future of austerity, I wonder can we finally let go and be present in the moment with all of its hope and pain, in the place where I AM is resplendent in glory?
I gave birth to a little boy a couple of months ago and went through a natural labour. My pains started in the middle of the night and continued on for ten hours, increasing in intensity and momentum. Every time a surge came upon me, I imagined myself scaling a mountain to its peak and then as the pain subsided I breathed deeply to relax and rest between the contractions. I didn’t resist the pain, I tried not to tense up, I went with the rhythm of the labour. Eventually I entered what a friend calls that ‘cathedral of pain’ and delivered my son into the world.
The beauty of the experience is something that will stay with me forever and I believe this is because I did not wish myself into the past of the pregnancy or the future of the birth. I managed to stay present, moment by moment. Sure, it hurt but I got through it and can look back on it with joy.
I’m taking that experience with me into Advent. It seems appropriate as I ponder Mary and her impending labour and the birth of the Christ child. Each day that draws us closer to Christmas, I set the intention to enter into the present moment. While the newspapers recount tales of fury and despondency, I share my daughter’s excitement at discovering the wonders of hot chocolate and marshmallows. While friends talk about emigrating, I see a blueness in the sky that I hadn’t realized was so beautiful. With my own future as a professional theatre and film maker in the balance, I breathe in the sweet, milky smell of my baby son’s skin. And I am thankful, and I am content.
Because all we have is this moment, the moment where I AM exists, where Jesus is near.