Been thinking about incarnation. About how everything – every weed, every tree, every bird and squirrel and doe and fawn and rock and waterdrop frozen into a snowflake – how everything has the potency of the divine in it.
If God is already “in” all things, then how do we “await” the advent of God’s arrival? The calendar says it’s time to be awaiting.
Simone Weil, the radical Jewish philosopher turned Christ-lover conceived of a god whose presence is so full that it allows nothing that is not god. For Simone, it is only as the divine withdraws that creation can fill the void.
From where does she get this? From the same source as her vision of Christ – in the midst of a fierce and piercing migraine attack. In her mind’s eye, when her amazing reasoning powers are pushed off the table by the power of pain, she experiences a presence beneath the veil of what’s what.
I spent some time on my day off sitting beside and below the 3 bros falls. It had rained all day the day before. And then it snowed - and those uniquely crafted frozen water crystals had stuck to every drenched surface and coated it with a blanket of wonder. Every branch was blessed white. On top of every grey and black underlining was a frosting.
You couldn’t look at what last week was grey and evergreen – now transformed into white, white, white everywhere on everysurface of every thing – without it touching that place of wonder in you.
To wake up and look out and see it - was to be opened up to childhood wonder and awe – to have the sponge of a child’s mind/heart again. Even my supersaturated adult mind had room to soak up that breath-taking sight. Heart and mind fused with soul to create Wonder.
This also meant that the 3 bros falls were in high flow. The thousands of watershed acres of forest and marsh and highlands trickled and flowed and filled the Burnt and Irondale rivers that meet just above the falls.
Drawing near, you first feel the thunder reverberating in your chest – even before your ears pick up the roar and hiss of white water. When eyes connect with the source of this rush, wonder strikes again.
Is this wonder what we are waiting for? Is this natural beauty the source of lifegiving hope we yearn for? The first glimpse of a new babe. The way mind stops calculating and breath is caught midstream – eyes widen to take it awe in.
The river overflows with excitement and hurry. It feels like the rush of streams of shoppers, the spinning of revolving doors, with muzac filling that white noise space between the ears where second thoughts might rise.
Down below the third falls I wander and find a place to sit in the sun. I get as close as I can to the power – this unstoppable power. And as I draw near – it never fails – fear rises.
To be so close to such a rush of power evokes an anxiety from somewhere deep beneath the layers of cloth and skin. It rises up in me like the mist from the falls. I can feel it climb up my spine and spray from the cerebral cortex into the top of my skull. It’s an instinctive fight-or-flight kind of fear. My body reacts - nerves pull me back, make me want to withdraw. It’s unsettling.
And that’s why I love it.
It’s rare that I really feel the fear in me. I’m sure it’s there every day. I’m sure it’s stored in my cellular memory. I’m sure it flows in my blood. I’m just rarely conscious of it.
I’m so good at “dealing” with it. So good at using mind over matter to conquer the anxieties, the unanswerable questions, that get triggered every day. This mental juggling act allows me to function, to tackle the world, to put on the coat of confidence that gets me out the door.
Or am I really dealing with it?
How many times each day do I miss the god-moments? When I’m busy figuring out the best thing to do, the best thing to say, the best thing to buy, the best way to be a follower – how many times do I miss the wonder and awe of divinity in each thing and person?
Unaware of the effects of anxiety at work in me – how pre-occupied am I by the unstoppable threats of this world thundering down around my ears?
The threats never stop. Sometimes the flow slows a bit. And then disaster strikes again. If it ain’t in the lives around me, then it’s just a reach for the radio dial or computer keys away.
And so are all the ways to distract my attention from those threats. Just as close as the fear are the amusements and merry-making that help me, if not forget – at least cope with that ever-present anxiety.
From beneath the layers of my middle class security, a fear rises up. In the face of an outpouring of the world’s pain – I need to get in touch with that fear.
Fear is as much a part of the Christmas story as the wonder. It’s a violent threat of the Roman empire that dislodges the pregnant family and sends them scurrying. It’s a jealous Herod who’s looking under every star for who’ll next threaten his white-knuckled grip on a ruthless power. It’s a life and death question - giving birth in a strange shelter far from the securities of stockings hung by the fire.
And so my journey towards the Advent of a Messiah must include getting in touch with that ancient fear so very present in the empires of today.
Because what I discover – by the discipline of staying – just for a while – with my fear. By resisting the impulse to run and draw away. By sitting close and noticing – just how scared I am. I discover something even deeper in me.
In the rock. In the earth. In the beating heart of my mother earth’s womb there is a strength and a security that is older and more powerful than all the daily flow of stress that threatens.
For thousands of years this rock has provided the channel, the crucible, the course for this day-by-day flow of uncertainty. The rock beneath the flow is shaped and worn and broken by the flow – but its unmovable presence is the ages answer to the changing seasons on the surface.
And in this deep dark crucible I connect with the spark of courage – the divine creative spark that evokes a rekindled joy. It sends me once again into the flow. Into the void of god-answers that might save us from the pain, I walk again.
I’ve shed another year’s skin of insecurity. And by simply once again getting in touch with that fear in me, I’m more aware than ever of the passing nature of that fear and the enduring nature of the love I serve.
And so maybe today I’ll notice god in the moments and see the wonder at work among us.