On a recent Sunday afternoon I took my young grandson to a neighborhood pool. What was meant to be a fun-filled way to cool off became a sacred moment when I felt a momentary rush of something that could only be described as the Holy Spirit sweep over me. We are all basking in sunlight that feels like divine light in this moment; the water a powerful symbol of life and cleansing. We are many faiths and cultures together in one place that is full of light and laughter and life. We are community as we encourage our own children and feel a connection with those we don’t know. Life guards are patrolling the water watching over us and reminding us of ways to remain safe while enjoying the water. We rest as required and those moments of rest are Sabbath moments in a Sabbath day.
We are all one in the time we are there. We are delighting in each other without speaking. There are giggles and peals of laughter, the din of joy supported by the underlying sprays of water. The moment is holy as I felt all of this wash over me like a healing and refreshing stream on a hot and dusty hike. Just for a moment my being was touched by all of this as an experience of oneness with everyone in that pool. Just for a moment – one joyous moment – when the divine made Itself known, I realized I was living – we were all living and playing – in the divine. Oh, how God must have been smiling with joy and satisfaction watching us and infusing us with the beauty of that oneness.
“Jesus is making and baptizing more disciples than John” opens the story about Jesus meeting the woman at the well. (John 4:1)
The words jumped off the page at me. Keeping score?? How silly that is, I thought. There was no competition between Jesus and John to see who could baptize more people. Yet, we ourselves tend to make life into a competition, often with ourselves and often with others. We are either winning or losing in so many areas of our lives. We check off all the items on our to-do list and we’ve had a good day. We fall short of getting it done and feel as if we’ve failed. Competition, always, competition, and mostly against ourselves.
Do we fear we are “not enough?” Do we fear God doesn’t approve of us if we don’t meet the expectations we set for ourselves – perfection in some cases? There is no competition in God’s unconditional love and forgiveness. It is there for each of us. God asks us to be who we are, a beloved child of God. That’s all. Nothing more, nothing less. It’s enough for God, so surely it is enough for us.
“You are precious in my eyes, you are honored, and I love you.” (Isaiah 43:4).
Advent is a time of waiting, watching, expecting – a time to prepare our hearts to receive Christ the newborn King. With all the frantic activity going on around us how do we prepare our hearts for this magnificent gift? I’ve been giving this a lot of thought in recent weeks and decided that I will not give in to the frenzy this year. I want to experience fully the joy of anticipation, the mystery of waiting.
This year, I am:
- spending more time in contemplation of the Story and less time on my gift list
- taking more time to sit in wonder of this priceless gift; less on worrying if I’ll get it all done
- offering more prayers of gratitude for my family, friends, community and my life
- giving more of myself to God and those around me
The fulfillment of God’s promises is a priceless gift that we are offered every day of the year. What better time to consider the boundless love of our God offered in human form to live among us, to laugh, to cry, to live in a way that raised the bar to its highest level?
I am setting aside more time each day, especially on the busiest days, for solitude to consider this priceless gift and what it means for my life. In those precious moments I will celebrate this gift with wonder and gratitude. Taking time to “Be still and know…” opens us to contemplate not only the gift of Christ but the very miracle of being alive. This season is about love – God’s love for us and our love for one another. Those are gifts of such magnitude that prayerfully preparing ourselves to receive them is the only way we can fully appreciate them.
Waiting in gratitude and wonder,