Perhaps because I grew up with a rather large amount of these, I appreciate and feel most comfortable outside in areas of wide open spaces. I like to see the horizon… all the way across… unencumbered with things like trees or buildings or, well, people or things people drive, build, or otherwise use. That’s worked out pretty well this week as I have driven back and forth on I-70 between Olathe and Salina a couple of times. Of course I double-booked myself, does that really surprise anyone?!? The benefit of that is that on Monday I didn’t look around much because the roads were not dangerous but weren’t exactly dry and clear, so even I focused and drove a little LESS than the speed limit. I know, right?! By this morning, the roads are all dry and as the sun came up in my rear-view mirror the beauty of the wide-open spaces was all around me. I decided I wanted to share that beauty with pictures so I pulled out my trusty phone and tried a few pictures through my windows – not great results. So I decided to roll down my window and get a true out-in-the-environment perspective. Yeah, that wasn’t a great idea, either; the roads are clear but it isn’t exactly balmy and the wind was not helpful. Instead of pictures you may simply have to believe through my eyes that there isn’t much greater beauty in the world than the wide-open spaces of Kansas covered with drifts of snow gathered deeply in some places and ground bare of it in other places, reminding us that when land is unencumbered the snow simply goes where it goes without a particular pattern.
Because I believe nothing in life cannot be connected with scripture, it reminds me of Jesus meeting with Nicodemus late that one night when Nicodemus was truly trying to figure out what being a follower of Jesus would mean. Jesus had a whole discussion about being born again that Nicodemus didn’t or wouldn’t understand, (maybe we sorta won’t or don’t either?) and then Jesus says that the wind blows where it chooses and we hear the sound of it but we don’t know where it comes from or where it goes. WESTERN AND CENTRAL KANSAS ARE IN THE BIBLE!!! RIGHT?!!? Our stories, our places, our world, our ways are so very often in the scriptures – it’s what makes the scriptures relevant and alive if we’ll open our spirits to God’s creativity. That’s part of why I so love my job.
Along with the visual beauty, and because the trip is longer than 30 minutes, the radio stations were not matching the wonder of the world, so I pulled out a CD. Sometimes CDs make me feel like life is still reel *snort* okay, that would work better if I had pulled out a cassette, but my car no longer has a cassette player, so just go with the general idea. Anyway, given our journey toward Advent, I pulled out my CD of 9 lessons and carols. I LOVE MY CD of 9 LESSONS and CAROLS! NOT before Thanksgiving but immediately following, I love it. There is a rhythm to scripture readings and choral masterpieces, to voices of children, middlers, and the chronologically gifted reading scriptures from Genesis to Isaiah to the gospels. It reflects the rhythm and diversity of life, it focuses on the foundations we have in a scriptural story that not only lives but is so beautiful it enriches life in a way that is both empirical and so beyond empirical that it continues to amaze. That is Advent. Don’t you think? It’s journey to the concrete and specific and a journey to the spiritual and immeasurable. It’s a journey to the deepest heart of our own lives, and a journey into the deepest heart of our community and world which is the heart of generosity we experience particularly in this season. It’s a journey into a story that we’ve heard every year likely as long as we’ve been alive and a journey into reflecting on what Christ’s birth means for us in ever-new ways each year. It’s a journey from the past to the present AND from a promised future back to genesis of creation.
Are we ready for the journey? Early Monday morning I not only made certain I had my computer and calendar and cell phone and identification; I also packed a box into the back that had insulated clothes, extra gloves and my furry muffies, a flashlight, snow boots, and two bags of Chester Cheese Corn – you know, all the necessities for a possible emergency. Have I prepared as carefully for my journey through Advent? My journey to make preparations for Jesus to come into my life in new ways because I’ve never lived in this particular time and space and experiences and understanding and Jesus may have new things to say, teach, live, love, and serve in my life. How might that preparation look? An Advent devotion – online or in book form; a commitment to serve and give in ways I haven’t or haven’t in awhile; spiritual journal – for me, letters I write to God about what makes me grateful, what challenges me, what fills me with faith, what causes me to doubt and everything in between; the decision to proactively greet people positively and with warmth. I hope I do those things on a regular basis, AND, somehow in this season of the year being more intentional allows my heart to “make room” for the birth of Christ that more likely deepens the meaning for my faith.
Honestly, I probably would not have chosen to journey back and forth on I-70 between Olathe and Salina this week, all things being equal, but it has given me windshield time for reflection, vision, and listening awareness within and outside my soul – I’m not sure I would have taken this amount of time for that any other way. Maybe my journey through Advent will be different this year, maybe God is using things around me to prepare me for new insights, new gifts, new challenges, new ways of being – perhaps for you too? I’m convinced there is a sacred rhythm to life that God provides and that sometimes I simply blow right through on my way to somewhere else – maybe I’m not the only one. Should I pray for you to have some unexpected and unplanned time for reflection? And maybe I can also pray that you will intentionally decide to take that time without relying on double-booking yourself so that you have no choice. However you choose to enter the journey toward the birth of Christ this year, know that God is present *snort* and seeking to live, and love, and rejoice with you the whole way and perhaps that is nothing less than a minute, or maybe two, of grace!