Sunday, December 13, 2009

Bringing on the Joy

"Ask not, doubt not. You have, my heart, already chosen the joy of Advent. As a force against your own uncertainty, bravely tell yourself, 'It is the Advent of the great God.' Say this with faith and love, and then both the past of your life, which has become holy, and your life's eternal, boundless future will draw together in the now of this world. For then into the heart comes the one who is Advent, the boundless future who is already in the process of coming, the Lord, who has already come into the time of the flesh to redeem it." (Karl Rahner, The Eternal Year)

This past week, full of its own ups and downs, has been less about the chronological time that my calendar and my schedule keep, and more about sending me headlong into the kairos that is all around me. kairos is the Greek word for "God time"--the "appointed time". It has always seemed to me that it is time outside of time...time in which all things good exist. I have wanted to live in this time, not to escape the mundane and sometimes even painful parts of the chronological, but to know and remember what Rahner admonishes me to do: to fight my own uncertainty with the joy of Advent. The one who is coming has already come and my celebration is a both/and.

Balancing the tension between the need to keep to schedules and plans and maps and the need to exist in the time appointed has usually kept me from fully letting go. This week, my preparations for the Christ-Mass will be filled with joy, and I will say into the void of clocks ticking my days away (and ticking the days of those I love away)--no more! For time is met headlong with the joy of knowing what has come to pass...and is now coming to pass...and will come to pass--all at once.

Bring on the joy.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Advent with Auden

I can't quite put my finger on it, but W.H. Auden really has Advent and Christmastide down for me. Those seasons are never quite as bright and shiny as nostalgia demands, but the joy for me when I truly catch hold of them is deeper than our secular holiday might proclaim. I think Auden's connection has something to do with the deep sadness and distress and longing of his own life...something that requires more than just bright, shiny, and happy to deal with. It requires actual deep joy, deep peace, deeper than the surface--penetrating to the dark places.

He "gets" why we need the Light so much because he has seen the darkness.

I came across this stanza from a poem of his, "Alone, alone" today:

"We who must die demand a miracle.
How could the Eternal do a temporal act,
The Infinite become a finite fact?
Nothing can save us that is possible:
We who must die demand a miracle."

Our very lives (and what we, as human beings have done with them) demand something deeper. There is some amazing thing that must happen to shake us from our complacency. Yet we have even managed to turn this Christ-Mass into a time of auto-pilot because there seems so much to to get out, services to plan, staff evaluations to do, house to clean AND decorate before the youth arrive for their party, "child" care to plan for when we go on vacation over the holidays.

I'm pondering this in the context of Auden because my "to do" list actually needs to be done--especially as it pertains to planning and carrying out worship and end of year things, but I think there is a holier way to do it, a way which tempers the manic joy of making sure that everything is done in order to fulfill my Victorian and administrative fantasies and simply asks, "What needs to be done in order that we all may experience the wonder of Incarnation again? What needs to be done in order to help my work and home function in such a way as is faithful to God's call in our lives?"

I hope that this year we are not required to save a parking space for the donkey and upgrade the accommodations so as not to offend ourselves (though the Occupant has never been offended thus). For the part of my life and the lives around me which don't want the smell of sheep dung mingled with our cinnamon and evergreen, I pray that God might know the depth of miracle we need.