Sunday, November 30, 2014

Awakening to Advent

When your mental judgmental grid and all its commentaries are placed aside, God finally has a chance to get through to you, because your pettiness is at last out of the way. Then Truth stands revealed! You will begin to recognize that we all carry the Divine Indwelling within us and we all carry it equally. That will change your theology, your politics, and your entire worldview. In fact, it is the very birth of the soul.
-- Richard Rohr 

Charleen's book club (of which I am a member) met this first Sunday of Advent to discuss Richard Rohr's Falling Upward (2011, Jossey Bass ISBN 9780470907757), a very inspiring book about the journey of life. Reaching the second half of mine, I find that his words are an encouragement -- and a freedom -- to ignore the judgmental voices that are always talking in my brain, comparing me to others and forgetting that I am turning into the person God made me, just as others are the people God made them. We all carry the Divine Indwelling within us equally, and that means that we are called simply to love rather than to live in fear of others or of our mistakes.

I feel an affinity for the author, Father Richard, because he's a follower of St. Francis of Assisi, who was, like Jesus, a rebel in his time. And like Francis and Jesus, Father Richard gives us permission to question and find truth outside of the rules we live by in the first half of our lives -- that period that helps us to figure out who we are and what we value. Once we reach the second half of our life, we begin to understand that life really isn't under our control, that we are never going to be perfect, and that it's okay to step outside of some of the boundaries we accepted in our youth, and to fall into the good, the true and the beautiful by facing our shadows and widening our perspectives. We can't put new wine into old wine skins, so sometimes we have to wake up, toss our old rules, structures and often misbegotten ideas away and use what we've learned (from our failures, sins and mistakes) to start fresh.

In the season of Advent, which begins again today, we awaken and await the coming of something and someone new -- someone who is always saying, "Be not afraid," and inviting us to step outside of all that we think we know to enter a new relationship with a God of surprises, who loves us beyond our understanding. May this Advent season be a time of allowing God to get through to us!

O God,
you made us, 
with all our struggles and joys,
our shadows and light,
so that we can find our way home
to you.
In these Advent days,
show us what's important
and what isn't
and let us seek your face
in those you have placed in our lives.
Knock down our walls
and widen our hearts enough
that you may dwell in them.
Let your joy and grace
overflow through us 
to touch all those you love,
especially those who feel unlovable.
In other words,
help us to stay awake
and be ready for you!


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