I am about as bad at being Present as I am at giving presents. While I talk the talk, I ain’t so good at walking the walk. As soon as Advent arrives I start in on folks. “Take time to prepare your hearts, sit aside from the hustle and bustle and get ready for God’s surprise”. For you that’s good advice. But for me it’s the same old business of getting through another heavy work season.
Here’s a very creative way one group is using to get that advent message across.
I felt suitably guilty after watching that one. But it also entertained so it went down pretty well. I find that there’s a new consumerism in Christendom. What can I buy for the poor this year? What can I buy to make me feel good about doing something for others? There’s an explosion of options out there. More choices. More catalogues full of things to purchase for the needy of the world.
That’s definitely better than just buying for those we know who don’t need any more. But it’s still the same spiritual problem.
My soul is still starved. Starved for attention. Starved for the kind of time you might spend with a lonely old person – if you only had the time.
One of my heavy obligations at this time of year is extra dining. We have four United Church Women’s groups at the church. Each one invites me to a luncheon. This week the Community Care Respite program has invited me to dine with them and I’ve also got a date with our retired ministers and spouses. The workload that I carry at this time of year is astounding. Luckily eating happens to be one of my talents.
My Body told me a little parable this week. It was quite memorable. Thursday morning I was on the run. But I was determined to not rely on fast food to get me through the day. I took the extra time to cook myself a hot breakfast and pack a lunch.
Only thing was – I also spent most of that day in the car driving to distant appointments. My left over pasta and scrambled egg breakfast hardly had a chance to settle before I hit it with a couple of big juicy tuna sandwiches on Kaisers. They were very good going down but my stomach started rebelling right after that.
Story short – by late afternoon my stomach still wasn’t good. We’d gotten through a difficult meeting at the Diabetes clinic and I decided what I really needed to settle my guts were a couple of doughnuts. Funny eh? Are you laughing at me yet?
The doctor was much kinder than the nurse. The nurse was full of advice about bran and exercise and more fluids and by the way you really have to do something about that blood pressure. “Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know, I know, I know. Yes, I change right now and never be an overconsuming, underexercising, North American again. Just let me go home now okay?
I’m getting hungry.”
The doctor in the emergency room gently and compassionately explained that as we age our plumbing doesn’t cooperate the way it used to. I was sure that my appendix or gallbladder or something in there was about to burst. She showed me an ex-ray and in technical doctor lingo pointed out “the big hunk of poo” in my guts. These prescriptions took about six hours of the Emergency Room’s time and trouble to come up with.
Having a baseball of poo in my guts forced me to stop. It was hard. Sitting in that emergency room for six hours was like an enforced advent pause. I got tired of it after about the first 20 minutes. The nurse caught me waddling down the hall to the reception desk to check and see if there were any church members in the hospital. I was put to bed and they took my clothes. My chauffeur Alana had brought along a couple of books and I did more reading than I’d done in months.
I think I’m still digesting that painful parable.
Driving in to work through the rain this morning I’m wondering how I can feed that starving soul? Obviously throwing fists full of food or dollars at it is missing my soul’s Catcher’s Mitt. My mind wanders to an encounter this fall with old, old friends and – remembering the belly laugh we shared – I burst out laughing again. I feel a little lighter. I think of the songs our little family sang around the computer last night. (Alana’s found karaoke Christmas Carols on Utube). I’ve still got some of that glow with me.
I resolve to spend six hours this week feeding that little light of mine. I get to work and instead of heading straight to the office I turn and go into the sanctuary. It is quiet and dim. I take off my shoes and do a set of Tai Chi.
There’s a move at the end of the first set where you drop both hands to your sides. When I do this I notice that my hands are holding fistfsull of stuff. I let it go and I can feel – really feel – stress just pouring out of my fingertips.
I go through the rest of the set – what I can remember – and head into the office. I am that much emptier and ready for whatever. Interesting how feeding my soul leaves me empty but satisfied.