Thursday, December 2, 2010

When is a bush just a bush?

I love the season of Advent even with all of the related craziness of preparing for Christmas. It is THE most graphic illustration of "in-between" time. At our house we still have a few stray pumpkins lying around, and an Advent mediation book out on the coffee table, and we have our pitiful blow up Santa in our yard because A. we heart Santa even if he does look this year like he's has many collapsed vertebrae and needs a titanium rod inserted and B. when some time off from work, the husband's energy level and good weather all line up on the same day you by golly get your Christmas decorations up even if it's Advent. All of that mixed up together is totally at the heart of Advent.

It's a season to celebrate both the right now and the not yet. We get all of those weird readings about the end of time and John the Baptist going postal on anyone within earshot and we will soon hear the joyous, familiar readings about angels and a young scared pregnant girl. Advent tells us to wait, to remain hopeful, to keep and eye out and Advent tells us to (like Cher in Moonstruck) snap out of it! Snap out of it and tend what needs tending right in front of you. (OK that's not really what Cher was talking about when she slaps Nicholas Cage in Moonstruck, but I love that snap out of it line and find it appropriate for Advent.)

At my dear St. Thomas parish I'm facilitating an Advent book study using my favorite book of all time: St. Benedict on the Freeway. I know I'm prone to exaggerate, but for real, I love love love this book. Corinne Ware is the author, and it was my great pleasure to know her when I lived in Austin. Her book, and I would say, her life, teach that God can be found every single day. God is present not only on those high and lofty occasions but in the nitty gritty every day. And if we practice a certain internal stillness we are more likely to "catch" God at work. As Corinne points out, it doesn't mean adding more stuff to our to-do list. It means, "seeing the daily in another Light."

Advent is a season that calls us to listen and look: look for ways God is speaking, look for ways God is loving even in the rush and crush of our daily 21st century Western speed obsessed culture.

BUT....(or as some of my former Bible study girls would hear me say so often...) COMMA...sometimes the burning bush is in fact something on fire that we need to tend to quickly! And sometimes the burning bush is right in front of us and we, like Moses, need to stop, take off our shoes, look and LISTEN.

I won't be able to tell you nor can you tell me exactly what kind of bush is on fire! It is the work of faith to listen and observe carefully enough that one can tell if it's time to run get that fire hose or if it's time to take off those shoes and hear the voice of God. And, just to confuse things even more, it might be both! Yikes!

I invite you now in this blessed season of Advent to carve out moments for quiet, moments for deep breathing, moments of thankfulness. And in the carving out I feel certain that God speaks and leads us to clarity. Peace! Rhoda