We talk a lot at Church Without Walls about how, while there is much to be joyful about, this can be a difficult time of year for many. Some are dealing with tremendous loss – the death of dreams or loved ones. Others are facing unexpected, life-changing illness. And many others are feeling shell-shocked by the speed and complexity of catastrophic world events, of inexplicable tragedy in our midst.
Life is full of disappointment; that is a given. Few of us have to look hard to find it. But, in the midst of heartache, there is always the unrelenting promise of light breaking in, no matter how dark the night may seem.
My discipline this Advent season has been to move from a place of expectation to a place of wonder, looking for joy and pleasure in small things: putting up a tree in my home for the first time in years; making time for a relaxed visit with a friend; or setting aside time to get reacquainted with myself in present time, looking for those neglected or abandoned parts of myself that are yearning for acknowledgment.
With open hands it becomes possible to receive the Christmas miracle, whatever form it might take: running into a dear friend I rarely see in the local Walgreens and basking in a few moments of sharing; being able to visit and pray with one of our congregants the night before major surgery; or experiencing the people closest to me in new and wonderful ways.
I don’t do well when things get too loud or too demanding. I don’t do well when I place too high expectations on others or on myself. When I experience life getting to be too much, I remind myself: Keep it small. Keep it simple. Drink in the wonder of it all.