Embracing the Stillness of Advent

And so, another {liturgical} year begins. Not with fireworks, champagne corks, Times Square cheers…but instead with a sacred, whispered sort of stillness. If we let it, this stillness can sink deep.

But (and here’s the rub) we have to let it.

This can be a real heart tug-of-war. At least for me. I’ve never been known for my patience.

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I have to remind myself that this coming Christmas is a birth.

And now that I remind myself, isn’t every pregnancy that way: an interminable waiting? And what happens if we rush the birth? We aren’t ready, no one is ready, and what should come easy (breathing, eating, living) becomes instead a struggle: touch-and-go and driven-to-knees terrifying.

But it’s so hard, isn’t it?–who knew it would be so hard?–to simply rrreeesssttt.

And that’s when I remember. God knew.

How often He reminds us, because He knew how often we would need these gentle nudges to slow down, sit down, lay it all down at his holy feet.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

This is what the LORD says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.”

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

And then again in Hebrews we read it, hearts-wide-open: unequivocal, eternal gift of grace.

There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God. For those who enter God’s rest also rest from their own work, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

I am reminded at the dawning of this Advent of something a young friend once told me true, somber-faced and serious and so staggeringly, stunningly insightful:

You are a human being, not a human doing.

Oh, how my soul needs to learn that truth. 

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In this season of Advent, may I remember deep in my bones what I was made for.

Sometimes, I’m so busy with the doing, I forget what I am called to be. I need to slow down, grow still, go deeper with my God who made me to share his happiness, his glory–how am I this blessed, this blessed?

And yet this rest, it is not recreation. It is a wakeful watching. A deep discernment. A reflection that refreshes, reminds, reorients me toward the one who holds all the plans for all the doing I ever need to do.

This state of being…sometimes it can feel like so much wasted time. And yet…

if I let it pass…

if I do not heed this call…

well, what a royal waste of holy time.

Truly, I can’t think of anything better to be doing.

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