My shorts and tanks have migrated to the back of the closet, along with the tattered bathing suits, and worn flip flops. Thank God, I have six months of body reformation, before I need to brandish those garments again. I notice the birds are migrating to warmer climates, as my mind migrates from the obligations of academia, to the obligations of the holidays. I shuffle from online shopping, to online grading, updating my syllabus, along with my Christmas list. I’s this stressful juggle of trivial pursuits, which drop to the floor, when my arms tire of the daunting repetition.
The dictionary defines migration as a move from one region or habitat to another, especially according to the seasons, which reminds me of the liturgical calendar, and the onset of Advent. Advent (from, “ad-venire” in Latin or “to come to”) is a time when people all around the world wait in joyful hope for the coming of the savior, the prince of peace, the mighty king. What does that really mean?
I’m tired of waiting. Christians also anticipate a final consummation with the divine, a time of enormous grace, where God siphons off all the good in the world, and unfurls a new future. I find it difficult to sit with this kind of mystery, so I stop, and allow the silky darkness of Advent encompass me.
My beloved mom has migrated from Washington to California while her only sister recently migrated from life to death. Migrations are not simple adjustments but often painful alternations in the patterns of our lives. The days are shorter, in order to make room for the longer nights, but we have the privilege of knowing the light will eventually return (along with the bathing suits). We do not know when peace will return to the world, but I have a feeling we will have to make some painful adjustments, in order for this to become a reality.
I feel the darkness calling me away from the futility of my thoughts towards a more meaningful meditation. Regardless of the state of the world, I still feel a glorious hope, percolating deep inside. Frederick Buechner says, “For outlandish creatures like us, on our way to a heart, a brain, and courage, Bethlehem is not the end of our journey but only the beginning – not home but the place through which we must pass if ever we are to reach home at last.” I’m fairly attached to this home but it forces me to consider my final destination.
My Dad died in December, so this is always an emotional time of year for me, and I find it difficult to negotiate the holidays without him. I resist moving the remnants of Christmas past to the back of the closet, I like to take them out, and swaddle myself in the memories. I know my sister and I remember much of our youth differently, even though our experience was similar, and maybe that is why our understanding of God is so diverse. “How will we know it’s us without our past?” (John Steinbeck)
I believe we are all created good, but our experience shapes us, causing irreversible deviations from the original plan. The violence in the world seems proof enough, we can take what is intended for good, and reconfigure it for our own evil purposes. I fear more acts of destruction will precede our intended destiny.
I depend on Advent to bring forth the things I have stored in the back of the cranial closet. This includes my faith, my ability to forgive, and my compassion for others. More often than not I push these things aside and allow the more pressing issues of my secular life to dominate my thoughts. I’m old enough to know we live in a state of constant change and I suppose this is where we will eventually find our hope. The direction in which we move is our choice. I am constantly learning, dreaming, and becoming. If this is not happening than I am deteriorating, declining, and decomposing. I have to allow the old to inform the new and I believe this is the blessing of Advent. At the very least, I can believe in a world, embodied by peace, hope, and love. I love how Brian McLaren describes Advent, “It intoxicates us like the best wine ever and so turns life from disappointment into a banquet.” God Bless…
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