On this first day of Advent, there are many things I could write about. I could write about our morning trip to get a Christmas tree-- the excitement of a certain wee family member to decorate it, the delicious smell of pine in our home, the cheer of garlands in our window boxes. Or I could talk about some of the special things we have lined up for Advent: our traditional Sunday Advent celebration, complete with singing, cookies, and the lighting of Advent candles; a beautiful wooden Advent Calendar that was a gift from Ben's mother, which has magnets for each day of the month; a beautiful little nativity that is currently on its way from Israel; or my rediscovery of pregnancy artwork as symbols of Christ's coming. Our little attempts at materializing this great hope that we have. Our best efforts at making the coming of a baby from a distant time and place feel intimate and real. Feel exciting and joyful and even uncertain in that way that any real birth feels uncertain.
But no, not today. Because all these little preparations are just sweet little attempts at capturing something that is so much bigger than all of this. And my own scurrying to make a home for a God who became incarnated are really just cute. So today, I share the words of my own favorite spiritual writer, Henri Nouwen, whose words about the Christ I will be meditating on and savoring in these coming weeks.
I keep expecting loud and impressive events to convince me and others of God's saving power....Our temptation is to be distracted by them....When I have no eyes for the small signs of God's presence--the smile of a baby, the carefree play of children, the words of encouragement and gestures of love offered by friends-- I will always remain tempted to despair.May you all have eyes for the small signs of God's presence in these coming days; eyes for the subtle beacons that tell us that yes, God is among us... all of creation is full of anticipation because The Holy One is coming.
The small child of bethlehem, the unknown man of Nazareth, the rejected preacher, the naked man on the cross, he asks for my full attention.