On my way to worship this morning, as I was waiting for the frost to melt on the windshield, I snapped this picture on my phone. It speaks to me of the quiet mystery of this Advent season.
In addition to the picture on my phone was a plea to stop by one of our local jails to visit a person in great need. Two surprises before I left the driveway. At church, many people asked about Di's health (still no diagnosis and lots of hurting last night.) I had fun talking with our youth about the Magi's journey and singing the hymns of this season. We practiced a bit of Ignatian prayer (part of my series on temperament and spirituality) before meeting with our youth and their families. After a very satisfying conversation about plans for the new year, I spent a few hours at the jail trying to sort out how best to help a lonely soul in need of a friend. The surprises just kept coming.
I had hoped to decorate our Christmas tree this evening, but given the way this day shook out, all I could do at day's end was crash out for an hour. Maybe tomorrow. Still, tonight I return thanks to God for a community of faith willing to struggle with me re: how to make our commitments real in a complicated world. I give thanks for youth and parents who know we can't do everything, so choose do what really matters! (Would that other adults might be as wise as these young families!) I give thanks for being present to one who is alone and afraid. I give thanks for the beautiful music our director selects each week - and asks me to play on, too. I give thanks for pain meds and heating pads for Di. I give thanks for our sweet albeit goofy dog. And I give thanks for naps that refresh - and let's not forget the beauty of red wine.
This week portends to be full: staff evaluations, preparations for next week's Council meeting, conversations with colleagues about a shared Advent retreat, planning for a Saturday memorial service, visiting people in jail, finding the right time for our young people to go caroling, living into my Advent commitment of praying the hours (four times each day), crafting next week's Sunday message, decorating our home for Advent/Christmas, selecting small but loving gifts for our daughters and their families, getting our dryer fixed (after I threw wet blankets from a basement flood in and burned-out the belt), taking Di for yet another medical exam, meeting with members about next steps in our annual fund-raising effort, practicing a bit of bass, preparing music for next Sunday's worship, planning for a possible February fund raising concert to raise money for emergency fuel assistance in our area and giving Lucie a measure of love and exercise. 'Tis the season, yes?
That's the stuff I know about - and there are always more surprises, yes? My benediction echoed the truth that greeted me this morning: Go out this week and let yourself be... surprised. Don't let your imagination atrophy like Zechariah's. Let God speak to you in some unheard of and unexpected way. And then, if it is in your power, share the blessing of your surprise with another so that our sacred imagination is strengthened. For we live and move and have our being in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.
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