“Could but my soul become a silent night, God would be born in me and set all things aright.” – 15th Century
What are we waiting and watching for during Advent? We are watching for God’s presence in us and among us. Such a presence is not easily seen, heard, or nurtured in the crowded inn of the world and its dazzling lights.
“Most of modern life is geared for a flight from God into the wilderness of neuroses.” – Thomas Merton
I love the glad tidings of joy at Christmas and the general warmth of conviviality and vague feelings of good will, but God’s presence also involves a shattering of the familiar and “frightening news for everyone who has a conscience.” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer) I tend to avoid that part, and so the pattern repeats again: God is born away from the madness in a place apart, where only a few poor and vigilant souls have the courage to see. Will I be there?
To be aware means to make choices. Choices require effort and sacrifice, rather than drifting comfortably in a cloud of mass consciousness and sense overload. If I take a beautiful opportunity such as the Advent and Christmas season and reduce it to just one more obligation and cause for anxiety, I will end up right back where I started: burnout, alienation, and unrest.
“Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of life.” – (Luke 21:34)
Prayer: Lord of Life, this Advent come to my assistance; let me remain awake to your reality amid the competing realities of a world that has forgotten how to wait in hope for the one thing necessary.