I have been fortunate to spend time at the lake recently. Ah, sweet space, sweet air, sweet quiet. At the lake, anxiety falls off my shoulders as I shed the demands that confine my “city life.” At the lake, my to-do list becomes inconsequential and my focus changes from doing to just being. At the lake, languishing in a lounge chair on the porch is the correct protocol, for time is no longer measured, meted out, and assigned to particularities. The rhythm of life at the lake is struck not by the tick-tick of the clock on the wall but by the movement of the wind in the trees and the waves on the water.
A friend, listening to my reminiscence, suggested an additional consideration about the awakening of my soul at the lake. “Perhaps the ability to recognize and connect with this sacred space,” he said, “is the seed of hope planted within you. Can you believe that this sacred hope is always available, and that you can experience it even when you are not at the lake?”
At the lake, life makes space for birthing.
Mary made space to bring forth God incarnate. That was the entreatment of the announcing angel: the hope of Christ is available to all of us in all times and in all places; the Advent angel enables us to give this hope a home on earth. Does Mary, do we, accept? (see Luke 1).
From his cell in a Nazi prison in 1945, shortly before he was executed for his opposition to Hitler, Jesuit priest Alfred Delp wrote this about the Advent angel:
“The angels of annunciation, speaking their message of blessing into the midst of anguish, scattering their seed of blessing that will one day spring up amid the night, call us to hope . . . Quiet, inconspicuous, they come into rooms and before hearts as they did then. Quietly they bring God’s questions and proclaim to us the wonders of God, for whom nothing is impossible . . .
“The first thing we must do if we want to be alive is to believe in the golden seed of God that the angels have scattered and still offer to open hearts. The second thing is to walk through these gray days oneself as an announcing messenger” (from The Shaking Reality of Advent found in Watch for the Light, pub. Orbis Books).
In advent we stop to make space for what is already there. Speaking to the clergy of the diocese several weeks ago, Bishop Laura Ahrens of Connecticut urged them to take Christ into their communities. “But be assured,” she said, “that you are not taking Jesus anywhere he has not already been.”
Soon enough the rejoicing angels will fill the skies, singing “Glory to God in the highest” (Luke 2:14). The Advent angels invite us to begin now to make space to receive the gift, for as St. Augustine said, what does it matter that the birth of Christ is always happening, if it does not happen in me.
Marjorie George is editor of ReflectionsOnline and Reflections magazine. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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