Advent Meditation

Advent Meditation

 

It is the first week of Advent – the beginning of a new year in the Orthodox Christian tradition and one of my favorite seasons in the liturgical calendar. Advent is all about expectation and anticipation. 

Advent prepares us for the arrival of something expected, something coming.  And often requires a season of waiting…hence, the anticipation element. It is wise, always, to consider the journey to the gift…like the wise men following the star to the Christ child.

There can be no Christmas without Advent. And there can be no journey without others – friends, family, spiritual companions.

Advent Questions for Anytime

I revisit these questions for Advent reflection each year and again, thought it fitting to share them with you all. It’s an excellent way to prepare for Christmas, and the new year – whether it has already begun for you, or is about to.
I pray these help to anchor you into this season of Blessed Hope.

1. What is God waiting for you to notice?

2. How might you prime yourself to notice, to be more aware of God’s presence and action in your life?

3. What is growing within you?

4. Where are you on your journey?

5. Has your path been straight or crooked?

6. Who is accompanying you on your path?

7. What is your deepest desire?

8. Can you see where you are being led?

Invitation to Quiet Prayer

“I wish to deepen my relationship with my God by consenting to God’s presence and action in my life.”

After a centering prayer group, I returned home to read a post by Fr. Carl Arico in Contemplative Outreach‘s monthly newsletter.   I reflected on the nature of prayer, in particular this quiet prayer some know as Centering Prayer.  It’s simply 20 minutes spent quietly – no music, no books, no movement – in the presence of God.  I liken it to sitting quietly on a porch with Jesus watching the sunset.

Prayer is an invitation.  It’s a consenting to.  The Christian life is receiving, not attaining as many religious, spiritual, and cultural practices emphasize.  Receiving and attaining are similar postures. They are both a reaching out, or up, or in, but the means to the same end differ.  Attaining suggests a striving.  Yet nothing one can do brings about a gift, an act of kindness or grace.  “Give me, give me,” begging and pleading, may yield a result, but not the Spirit.  Attaining is much of my own work and process.  Receiving asks nothing of me to do, but accept.  Acceptance is an action of the heart, not of the will.

With attainment, it is much easier to reject gifts intended for our later joy, especially if they are first experienced as pain or sorrow.  This can limit our acceptance of humanity on a social level, and our own personal experience of it; our humanness.  If I reject loss, betrayal, heartache, death, anger, and refuse to accept it in this world, more likely am I to reject it in myself.  And what I cannot accept in myself, I cannot offer to God thus fragmenting my relationship with God.  Only parts of me are exposed to God’s presence – healing and love – and sadly, the parts of me exposed are the parts least in need of the healing love.

“I wish to deepen my relationship with my God by consenting to God’s presence and action in my life.”

God invites us to prayer. We accept the invitation.  As we spend time together, God and I, – listening, being present, sharing our hearts – our relationship deepens and we become one.

The Place of Splendor

Little one, wait.

Let me assure you this is not the way

to gain the terminal of outer day.

 

Its single gate

lies in your soul, and you must rise and go

by inward passage from what earth you know.

 

The steps lead down

through valley after valley, far and far

past the five countries where the pleasures are,

 

and past all known

maps of the mind and every colored chart

and past the final outcry of the heart.

 

No soul can view

its own geography; love does not live

in places open and informative.

 

Yet, being true,

it grants to each its Raphael across

the mist and night through unknown lands of loss.

 

Walk till you hear

light told in music that was never heard,

and softness spoken that was not a word.

 

The soul grows clear

when senses fuse; sight, touch and sound are one

with savor and scent, and all to splendor run.

 

The smothered roar

of the eternities, their vast unrest

and infinite peace are deep in your own breast.

 

That light-swept shore

will shame the data of grief upon your scroll.

Child, have none told you? God is in your soul.

 

Jessica Powers, (1945; 1946; 1984)