We are still in the midst of the Christmas season. There are TWELVE DAYS of Christmas…you know the song. Yes, the gaudy decorations are still up at the mall, but the Valentine’s Day displays are being assembled right next to boughs of holly and Santa’s reindeer. And all of the items that espoused to create your perfect Christmas are being sold at 50-75% off; for some reason those items aren’t worth as much as they were last week. Christmas is over! As a culture, we plow through Christmas and move on the next Hallmark-created holiday—and that’s just the way retailers like it.
As a culture we aren’t so patient. We don’t really like to wait, whether it’s standing in a line, getting the newest iPhone or waiting for important news. But this was to be our lesson during Advent, not to see how many Christmas bargains we could get.
Advent is about longing for the God that breaks into time and space as a baby in a manger. Advent is about cultivating patience and not rushing to the Incarnation. Advent is the ultimate “vorfreude”, anticipating the joy of God becoming one of us, that God in his humanity has shared with us his divinity. “God became human so that his divine life might flow into us and free us from our mortality and impermanence…to fulfill the deepest longings for transformation and the healing of lives.” (~Anselm Grün, A Time of Fulfillment)
I think I’ll take a pass on the after-Christmas sales. I detest shopping so much anyway (thank God for my personal shopper/daughter for those occasional wardrobe updates). I shall linger over Christmas a bit longer.
“Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something
unknown, something new.
And yet it is the law of all progress
that it is made by passing through
some stages of instability—
and that it may take a very long time.
And so I think it is with you;
your ideas mature gradually—let them grow,
let them shape themselves, without undue haste.
Don’t try to force them on,
as though you could be today what time
(that is to say, grace and circumstances
acting on your own good will)
will make of you tomorrow.
Only God could say what this new spirit
gradually forming within you will be.
Give Our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.”
― Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
As de Chardin advises, I will trust in the slow work of God. I shall remain in the Christmas season to see what it has to teach. I surrender to the surprise of ever-deeper layers of understanding the Incarnation.
Reading, creating and resting: this is how I’ve spent the first FOUR DAYS of Christmas. There is the non-patient, must-be-productive part of me that resists this lingering, that sees it as lazy; but I’m learning to listen to the advice of Sr. Helen Prejean, “Don’t leap ahead of grace.” If we move too fast, do too much, we risk missing the voice of God that knows so much more what we need. I embrace “this new spirit gradually forming within”.
This is what I love about creating SoulCollage® cards. There is “vorfreude” in selecting images, seeing how they work together, anticipating that feeling when you know “This is it!”–this is the card that was waiting to be created.
Creating cards is also a form of surrender. It is a prayerful waiting to see what God reveals through the images that have intuitively come together. (See Pictures are worth a thousand words). So I shall linger in these 12 Days of Christmas and see what surprises unfold.
Idea for you: Create a SoulCollage card using some of the Christmas cards you received. And while you are doing that listen to THE GIFT OF HOLINESS AT CHRISTMAS with Fr. Mauritius Wilde O.S.B., PhD. on Discerning Hearts.
“The Holy Spirit is our creating power. It is through God that we give thanks for this creativity..We are imitating God himself when we look at our creation.”
This reflection was given during a special advent evening of prayer and meditation service at St. Margaret Mary’s Church, in Omaha, NE on December 16, 2014.
Another Advent post: A Great Light Has Come Upon the Earth