On Advent

I’d seen this image from “Cat in the Hat” many times before, no rx but in our latest reading it made me think of Advent: a word that means “arrival,” a season, a spirituality of watching and waiting for God.  What seems weird is that the kids aren’t lined up before a large glowing screen or individual iPads.  I suppose that’s not what kids did in 1957.  They want to get outside, so they’re watching for a break in the rain, or for whatever else might happen …

I wonder, when is the last time I just watched rain fall?  My email itself can be so absorbing, and then there’s the news, which has many of us feeling very anxious.  We can’t look away, and in one sense, we shouldn’t when such dramatic changes are underway and when we are involved.  Then again, maybe our field of vision can get to be too narrow?  In our stress, maybe we pack our December schedule to be water-tight and just hope that God will help us pull it off without complications.  What if we stop for a while and turn our faces in some new direction?  I think of how rain can remind us of the steady and truly amazing provision of God, falling alike on the “good and the bad.”(Matthew 6)  Even those Californians who have to drive through it can appreciate rainfall as a truly important event, a gift.

cathat2My other image here is of people in pews watching for Christ, which is not to take a break from reality but seek to understand it more deeply.  I’ve always been intrigued by words from the German martyr and pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer: the gospel of Jesus Christ is the one place where we can “fix one’s eyes on God and the world together at the same time.” Sin is fully exposed together with grace and great promise.  During Advent, we hear about swords beaten into plows, wolves lying down the lambs, good news for the poor, the Spirit descending like a dove, and Emmanuel: “God-with-us.”  I can’t imagine how God can do all this, which is I suppose why I need to stay attentive, willing to be surprised and to follow.