Advent: It’s time to wait. For whom are we waiting? As Christians, we say that is Jesus! This is a Holy Time in our Christian calendar when we might make space for reflection, silence and – hopefully – confront some of the import of the choices that lay before us.
I have been thinking about gifts a lot lately. In particular, what does that mean? Is it something we give? Is it something we get?
One of the answers that has become clear to me is, this week, is that part of it begins in an affirmation of choices that one makes to heal, to move beyond habitual responses and to embrace life fully awake. This has become particularly clear as the gift that has utterly and completely changed my life is that I have finally met my sister!
For the 40 years of my journey around our sun, I have been an only child. For the first 16 years, I thought I was alone and for the remaining 24 I have known I was not as I learned somewhere in the universe was a sibling and all I could do was wait and pray. Why I have a sister, whom I am just joyfully meeting for the first time, is connected with the complexities of life, realities of difficult choices and trying to find balance in places of oppression and abuse and, in the end, choosing balance in a human world filled with greyness.
As this gift has come into my life, I have also recognised we are in the Season of Advent. This time for silence, reflection and to ask questions: what does this mean to me? What does this say to me about this boy I am anticipating coming into the world with a message of unconditional love even though death stalked? How do I welcome this child and … in turn … how do I welcome this utter stranger of a sister for whom I feel an instant and intimate connexion?
In these places of questions, during my daily 10k hither and thither, it occurred to me as Boomer endured my two-legged pace, that I get to be whoever I want with my sister! I can present the hurts and baggage that are part of every life. The patterns that can, should we live there, reinforce our individuality and the narrative that we are the heroes of our own stories or, I can choose something different. I can finally be – or endeavour to do so – who I truly think I am meant to be. I can be honest without judgement, I can be compassionate without smothering, I can be humble without pretension, and I can be vulnerable without apology. The gift of meeting my sister in my 41st year is that I can be to her, what I have longed to be for myself. And, in so doing, I can let go of the patterns and distractions that make up the every day and be born again into a life that is filled with potential.
Now do not get me wrong, I’ve got warts, she probably does to. I have done a lot of my own work and I suspect she has too. The everyday necessities will likely be present to tempt me back into a sense of slumber – but right now I get to choose to be alive, awake and present to someone who is in this mutual state of WOW and that is awesome!
I have sat with more than one Aboriginal Elder over the years and one of the consistent challenges I have heard asked is: “What do you need to learn now, in this moment?” As Advent allows for such questions to be mulled, I think I am realising that my sister’s arrival reflects the degree to which I am prepared to welcome this wee child, born into a place of the lowest order and for whom I struggle to be a disciple. A boy in all his frailties offered a broken world something we continue to need: Hope.
How I choose to respond to the gift I have received/can give is ultimately a mirror: do I reflect and embrace the Hope mutually or do I get stuck in distractions and lose sight of what has been offered to me? One’s life doesn’t completely change and transform in an instant too often and I pray that I embrace the Hope that always arrives with new life!
A Deacon’s Musing blog