Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Wrapped in prayer

Wednesday of the Second Week of Advent

Make haste to help me,
O Lord of my salvation.
Psalm 38:22

I wrap an extra scarf around my neck before I step out into the bitter morning, made colder by the fierce wind that pushes people along the street. Even from within my car I can feel its force.

While I don’t like to be cold, I do enjoy winter. I find comfort in wool sweaters and thick blankets and burrowing in with a cup of hot tea. I experience a certain satisfaction in wrapping myself up and feeling protected from the elements.

In the early morning I also wrap myself in prayer, finding comfort in the poetry of the psalms and familiar passages of scripture and sinking into the presence of the holy. I offer my thanksgivings to God and also seek help for the complexity of the day ahead, discovering consolation as I place myself in the care of the one who saves.

Image Copyright: alenkasm / 123RF Stock Photo

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Scent of hope

Tuesday of the Second Week of Advent

And now, what is my hope?
O Lord, my hope is in you.
Psalm 39:8

I set the onions to simmer and their pungent aroma begins to fill the kitchen. What is it, I wonder, about the smell of sautéing onions that is so satisfying? Their tang brings to mind warmth and comfort and the gratifying familiarity of the family gathered around the table to enjoy a meal. Taking my time, I add chopped carrots and marjoram and thyme, the mixture on its way to becoming lentil soup for a cold winter night.

I marvel that a simple smell can contain the essence of hope. At times, it is difficult to believe or remember the impact of small gestures. Yet I know the uplifting of being on the receiving end of a gentle word, a moment of listening, a burst of laughter. Small acts of hope can carry us through. They are icons of the One in whose hands our souls are held.

Image Copyright: kazoka30 / 123RF Stock Photo

Monday, December 11, 2017

Creating a way

Monday of the Second Week of Advent

All the paths of the Lord are love and faithfulness
to those who keep his covenant and his testimonies. 
Psalm 25:9

Yesterday, the early morning sun disclosed an unbroken sheet of snow covering the back yard. It reminded me of my childhood, when such a sight would have thrilled me with its invitation to create on a blank page. I would spend hours outside in the cold crafting tracks in the snow, pathways, mazes, games. If I had known then the shape of a labyrinth, surely I would have made such a path.

This morning, I see the remnant of the single path I created walking across the yard to retrieve the snow shovel from the shed, the endless possibilities seemingly vanished.

It is tempting on the Advent journey, on any journey with Christ, to think of there being one way, the way, to arrive. Or to believe that a life of faith consists in discovering or uncovering the designated path that God has set before us. But the holy does not abide by such limits. What makes it God’s way is to walk in love and faithfulness.

A new day opens before me. The possibilities have not vanished at all.

Image Copyright: mycteria / 123RF Stock Photo

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Felicitous mystery

Saturday of the First Week of Advent 

For you will give him everlasting felicity
and will make him glad with the joy of your presence.
Psalm 21:6

I glance out the window and feel a smile begin. It is snowing. I’m not sure when it started and as I hadn’t paid any attention to the weather forecast, I am caught by surprise. And delight.

I know the complications this weather can bring, but nevertheless my overriding response is excitement. To me it announces cheer, it speaks of winter woods and quiet paths, plucky birdsong calling into cold stillness, clean beauty frosting city landscapes.

Simply the anticipation of what these first few flakes may herald calls me into the presence of transcendent joy, the presence of a God who delights, laughs, wants to make our hearts glad. And I am awed that an ordinary water crystal can evoke such reverence.

The flakes become larger, slowing into a steady fall. And I welcome the invitation to revel in the mystery of God’s creation.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Light of laughter

Thursday of the First Week of Advent

You, O Lord, are my lamp;
my God, you make my darkness bright.
Psalm 18:29

The early darkness still catches me by surprise this time of year. Last evening, I wound my way home along illuminated streets yearning for my warm house and thinking that we haven’t even yet arrived at the darkest time of the year, the longest night.

Intentionally, I chose the route that takes me through the historic downtown, where the windows in the buildings along each side of the street display a solitary candle. Something about this simplicity brings me joy each Advent. A reminder that a single flame dispels the darkness.

This morning I enjoy laughter and conversation with colleagues as we talk about sharing hope. This too dispels the darkness. We are lamps to one another, companions along the path, each bearing the light of Christ as we wend our way to the crèche and the salvation of the world.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

In the seeking

Wednesday of the First Week of Advent

The Lord looks down from heaven upon us all,
to see is there is any who is wise,
if there is one who seeks after God.
Psalm 14:2

As is often the case with me, it seems to happen in an instant. One moment I am functioning just fine,
and the next I can’t put two thoughts together. It’s time to stop. Breathe. Drink water. Go for a walk.

I honestly think my aging body is my friend in this moment, my lack of stamina a gift. As a younger person, I would have insisted that I should just power through, would have been caught up in the lie that I could power through. Yet even now, I am not immune from the voice that whispers, “inadequate, unreliable, uncaring,” while at the same time telling me I can do it all. This is a snare laid by the enemy. I know it well.

And with the strength to cut through the cords that entangle me, like the sigh of a gentle breeze, another voice sings into the moment, has been signing all along, “remember the source of life, turn toward the light, know you are loved.”

And I remember to seek God.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Opening the door

Tuesday of the First Week of Advent

In the morning Lord, you hear my voice;
early in the morning I make my appeal and watch for you.
Psalm 5:3

I slip my thumbnail under the flap to gently pry open today’s door on my Advent calendar. It is a retro design, recalling the calendars of my childhood. A winter scene with forest creatures looking over a snow-covered village and a star shining on one particular spot in the distance. Each door reveals a tiny scene of preparation or anticipation of the celebration to come—all enhanced by a light sprinkling of glitter.

I had to hunt to find the right numbered door this morning, and in doing so remembered this as part of the ritual from my youth. How searching for the day’s door carried mystery and delight. How could something so obvious and certain be hidden in plain sight?

In my journey toward Jesus, each day is a door opening to revelation, offering opportunities for the recognition of joy, divine presence, and redemption. Day by day I am reminded that revelations of the holy are hidden in plain sight. Some searching, a bit of attentiveness, a modicum of intention opens the way and the heart to sacred love.