Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Small Signs of Advent - Morning Stillness

     Why is the morning so still? Why is the time between darkness and dawn so very quiet? The night voices begin to quiet themselves and the morning voices , like me, are hesitant to start moving. Stillness.  I open my eyes and leave the warm space to listen and wait. As the first rays of light peek through the trees, the morning noises, one by one, come to life. Another day. Another new morning reminds me of the words from Isaiah, "Morning by morning He wakens - wakens my ear to listen as those who are taught."( Isaiah 50:4)
I have learned the quiet before dawn is what rescues me from the perils of the day. The stillness and quiet waiting are when I hear the voice of God, assuring me that the One who brings his first rays of light to creation is also bringing me a ray of light, a ray of hope, a ray of guidance.  It is the example Jesus gave to his disciples where, "In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went to a deserted place, and there he prayed. (Mark 1:35.) The Christ child teaches us.
I cannot help but wonder about those who miss the quiet before the dawn. Admittedly, sometimes I am one of those, but choosing to miss the lonely, quiet place of silence is dangerous. Henri Nouwen, in his book Out of Solitude says: "Somewhere we know that without a lonely place our lives are in danger. Somewhere we know that without silence words lose their meaning, that without listening speaking no longer heals, without distance closeness cannot cure. Somewhere we know that without a lonely place our actions quickly become empty gestures."
Where is the place of "somewhere?" The answer lies in my Advent reading for today.
"God wants to open the heart before it opens itself to the world; before the ear hears the innumerable voices of the day, the early hours are the time to hear the voice of the Creator and Redeemer. God made the stillness of the early morning for himself." (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, God Is In the Manger)
Open my heart, God, to your day and let me always show up as you wait for me in the stillness of the early morning.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Small Signs of Advent - Weeping for Newtown

The headlines tear to shreds my peaceful Advent journey.
Small, innocent children and teachers are senselessly murdered in our country. 
God, where were you at Sandy Hook Elementary School? God, you whose eyes are on the sparrow, who sees and knows everything, where were you when the tormented young man left his home where he killed is mother and then entered the school and opened fire on innocent victims?
It is unthinkable and my heart bleeds with the brokenhearted families who are reeling in pain and and whose lives will never be the same. I look for the "small sign" and can't seem to find it through my weeping.Maybe that is the small sign.

I return to the writing of Ann Weems who gives voice to anguish.
"Anger and alleluias careen around within me, sometimes colliding. 
Lamenting and laughter sit side by side in a heart that yearns for the peace that passes understanding. Those who believe in the midst of their weeping will know where I stand.
In the quiet times this image comes to me: Jesus weeping.
Jesus wept,
and in his weeping,
he joined himself forever
to those who mourn.
He stands now throughout all time,
this Jesus weeping
with his arms about the weeping ones:
'Blessed are those who mourn,
for they shall be comforted.'
He stands with the mourners,
for his name is God-with-us.
Jesus wept.
'Blessed are those who weep, for they shall be comforted.' Someday. Someday God will wipe the tears from their eyes.
In the godforsaken, obscene quicksand of life,
there is a deafening alleluia
rising from the souls
of those who weep,
and of those who weep with those who weep.
If you watch, you will see
the hand of God
putting the stars back in their skies
one by one."(Psalms of Lament)
Holy Infant Jesus, your tears are joined to mine. I hear the alleluias.