Hidden Gifts

I met with my spiritual director last week. What’s that you ask? Well, I define a spiritual director as “a companion on the journey of growing in intimacy with God. She/he bears witness to the activity of God in your life and encourages you to respond to His love.”

Anyway, she asked about my practice of Advent…basically how do I observe it and how is God speaking to me.

With a sigh I went on to describe the love/hate relationship I’ve had with this season since 1978. Parents who have passed away, miles between my children and me, and relationships that aren’t what they used to be all contribute to a sense of loss that often hangs over me like the thick gray clouds that fill December skies. She listened patiently and without judgment. And then she posed a question that has transformed my perspective.

What are the gifts hidden within the sense of loss that this season often brings?

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While I knew I had time to consider the question I began to see the gifts right away.

  • We raise our children to grow up and be independent. As much as I love my kids and enjoy being around them, I’m glad they aren’t living in my basement. They are sharp. They are healthy. They are adventurous. They are working hard and navigating adulthood in a way that any parent would be extremely proud of.
  • Advent is a time to consider and prepare for Christ’s coming. With His return I anticipate the gift of a great reunion. My parents were people of faith. Though they are absent from the body they are present with the Lord. They have joined the great cloud of witnesses and I believe we will be reunited.
  • Hiding under the boughs of subtle sadness is the gift that I am enjoying life in many corners of my being as life is supposed to go.
  • The greatest gift I reclaimed is the fact that not all of my relationships have changed negatively. My relationship with Krista is not what it used to be. And for that I am eternally grateful. She has gone from friend to best friend to special lady pal (her favorite term I’m sure) to fiancé…and next summer to wife. We are living in the already but not yet, which is not without it’s challenges but is both a mystery and a gift to people of faith.

 

Let me play the role of your spiritual director today.

What are the gifts hidden within the sense that this season often brings for you?

 

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Advent’s Invitation

nativity-iconTis the season to celebrate His birth

Marking the moment when God became flesh

When the almighty was swaddled and bundled

Entrusted to a teenaged mother and a surrogate dad,

Nervous and humbled they took their place in the story.

 

Tis the season to make room for inconvenience

Opening the stable of my heart to Him

When permission is given and action is taken

To move around and clear out the clutter,

For the Holy One desires to take up residence in me

 

Tis the season to accept His invitation

Partnering with Him in His mission to set things right

When we work for justice and care for the poor

Steps ordered by compassion and generosity

Busy living His prayer of bringing heaven to earth

 

Tis the season to contemplate His return

Looking forward to the completion of redemption

With might and goodness and grace

A new reality is ushered in – a new heaven and a new earth

A new day has dawned – a groom returning to claim His bride

 

Advent is a narrative that beckons me to step in

Advent is a means of holiness that invites me to change

Advent is a lifestyle of passion that invites me to serve

Advent is a glimpse of life to come that invites me to hope

Advent is an invitation