Advent is a season of dark and light. The days get shorter and more dreary but we light our candles one by one to show the light of Christ coming into the world. First one tiny flame from a single candle and then a blaze of light by Christmas.....
We also look for enlightenment. Many of us attend quiet days during Advent, a time to look within, to ponder, to think and pray about how we want to be so that we can show the light of Christ ourselves. Advent is a good time to do that, too, because it's the liturgical new year.
I often look for enlightenment about what I am doing or what I am going to be doing. Particularly, now, I am wondering what I am going to do next because the work I've been doing for the last three months is about to come to an end. My experience has been that just when I think I am about to have nothing much to do, something happens - I get an email, a phone call, I run into someone somewhere and next thing I know, I'm busy again. Nonetheless, when I am looking at an open-ended period with nothing on the calendar, I get anxious.
Recently, I was sitting in church by myself. (This is one of the big perks of being a priest, in my opinion. One can just go sit in church any time by walking down the hall.) Well, not completely by myself - I brought my anxieties in with me. While it is true that one can pray and one can listen for God anywhere, and I do those things, I find that when I am in a nave, I focus differently. There's something about that sacred space that opens something up in me and helps me be more attentive. At any rate, I was sitting in church by myself, and the light came in through some of the windows, and I had this sense of calmness and well-being. I had this sense that all will be well, that I needed to spend my time right now being grateful for the good work I have been given to do in that parish and not to worry about what is going to come next.
It was neat how this thought came to me just as I was looking at the light coming through the windows. True enlightenment.
‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, “What will we eat?” or “What will we drink?” or “What will we wear?” (Matt. 6:25-31)