As I write this, the sky outside is getting dark; ominous black clouds gathering, the harbinger of a coming tropical monsoon storm. Parts of my country Malaysia is submersed in the annual floods that plague this country in the monsoon period. The darkness of the gathering storm reflects the darkness of my soul. No, I did not have a bad year. In fact, 2013 will be considered by many to be a very successful year for me. I have received accolades for my medical work and medical teaching. I achieved the pinnacle in my academic development. I have presented a theological paper in an international conference, taught well received courses in theological seminaries, preached numerous sermons and led a couple of retreats. And many have been blessed by these. Yet, I feel empty. I feel a longing for something or someone. I feel homesick. C.S. Lewis has expressed what I am feeling well when he described that feeling he had as if hearing a familiar music from behind a door of a party you have not been invited to. The music invoking a sense of longing, a sense of homesickness of a home you have never seen before.
Advent, the season which leads to Christmas offers me this opportunity to express my homesickness. Christmas is the day we celebrate the birth of the Christ, God incarnate who took on human flesh. The almighty that became vulnerable as a newborn baby in Mary’s arms. The Messiah has come to take on the sins of the world so that all may be reconcile to the Holy Father. The Christ event has made possible my ticket home. This ticket was offered to me free by God’s loving grace. Like a person with amnesia, I may not remember what this home is like but I know that it will be a good place. This home will be where there is space for me to be me; with no pretensions or deceptions. Where I am loved for who I am, not what I do. Home is a space where I feel wanted and am comfortable in. Not an alien resident or squatter in a foreign land. This space is where I belong and am being part of. Coming to this home will be like I have never left. While I am here in this world, this home is still in me and will always be part of me.
Advent and Christmas promise new beginnings. Being at the end of December it is the closing of the year and a new year beckons. Many new journeys begin from home. We strike out from our safe comfortable homes on new quests of discoveries. Advent is coming back to base, rest and equip for another year ahead. Advent is homecoming. Christmas is home base. Then living forward to another quest; another year ahead of discovering the transcendent and immanent God in our daily lives.
Finally, Advent is coming home to another Christ event, that of His second coming. The return of the king will bring to an end the tremendous suffering of this groaning creation, and the billions of human souls on it. It will be an end to pain, suffering, loneliness and loss. The shalom of the Garden of Eden, the original perfect creation will be restored. And we will all come home, only to discover as T.S Eliot notes, it is where we all have began from.
Alex Tang lives in Malaysia, He is a paediatrician, associate professor of Paediatrics, practical theologian, and spiritual director. Please visit his website Kairos Spiritual Formation www.kairos2.com