stillness is hard for us at any time of the year, let alone the weeks leading up to Christmas. In December many more tasks and events are added to an already full schedule. We take joy in the shopping, preparing, decorating, baking and socializing. But...for those of us who are connected into the liturgical life of the church, we are told this is the time to slow down, to reflect and wait for the coming of Christ.
One of the most profound gifts we can give others is to be a
"place" of Advent for them. Invite them into a quiet space, a time of mutual peace and stillness. The best way for me to do this is to actually sit with someone, slow down and listen deeply. You don't need to be in complete silence to find peace. What many of us yearn for is to be authentically seen and heard. That is the moment of Advent we can give each other. As we anticipate Immanuel - God with us- we remember that we don't need to wait. God is here. God is in the relationships we treasure. God is in the moments of deep listening and deep knowing that we give to each other.
This week I visited my friend who just had her second child - a month early. She was told to not go out and submit the baby to the cold weather and the seasonal germs. On good days my friend is nestled inside feeding, cuddling and taking care of her little one. On difficult days she is trapped with no adult conversation getting very little sleep. My willingness to do the simple things like hold the baby and listen to the stream-of-consciousness thoughts that finally had an adult listening ear were a gift to my friend. An Advent gift: the gift of presence in the midst of ordinary life.
We hear this season that God came into this world in the midst of the ordinary: to a government counting its people, in a barn warmed only with the bodies of animals, and to a woman and man who previously had led an
unremarkable life. And yet, there is God coming to them and us, Immanuel, in the middle of the ordinary moments. Likewise, in a small living room on the northwest side of Chicago, the Holy Spirit was stirring. God was once again working through an infant. My friend wasn't the only one experiencing the gift of Advent. As I listened to the cooing and murmurs of a sleeping infant, I could feel my muscles relax and my mind becoming free of all the lists and worries of the day. The baby helped me be truly present in the moment so I could give my full attention to her mother. Once again, it is a child who leads us and points us to the awesome love of God.
I pray this will not be my only still moment of this Advent season. I trust that the Holy Spirit has more peaceful stirrings designed for me in both the joyful busyness and the moments of quiet as I wait for Christmas.
A blessed Advent to you ~