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Waiting With the Word by Henri Nouwen
“Our waiting is always shaped by alertness to the Word. It is waiting in the knowledge that someone wants to address us. The question is, are we home? Are we at our address, ready to respond to the doorbell? We need to wait together, to keep each other at home spiritually, so that when the Word comes it can become flesh in us. That is why the Book of God is always in the midst of those who gather. We read the Word so that the Word can become flesh and have a whole new life in us.”
In recent years, I have learned the joy of Christmas (and a practical way to keep from being ready to throw the tree to the curb on December 26) is to keep Advent. Advent is a liturgical season of waiting and watching; it’s a way to slow one’s pace and to examine one’s heart. Advent begins the Sunday after Thanksgiving in most churches, but you don’t have to go to church to keep advent. Advent culminates with the Birth of the Savior. I even chose St Nicholas, whose feast day is December 6. as my personal saint. As an Advent saint, he will slow me down and help me remember that Advent is a season of penance and fasting; Christmas is a traditional feast day. In fact, the Twelve Days of Christmas are feast days. The real party only begins on Christmas Day. Prepare? Sure. Buy and wrap, decorate and bake, but wait. Wait. Babies are born when they are ready. The Son of God was born “in the fullness of time”; The Son of God was born at Christmas; The Son of God is love incarnate; Love was born at Christmas. I love Christmas.
To be fully conscious would be to love everything on some level and in some way—even our mistakes. To love is to fall into full consciousness, which is contemplative, non-dualistic, and including everything—even “the last enemy to be destroyed, which is death itself” (1 Corinthians 15:26). That is why we must, absolutely must, love! And why we must not be afraid of death.
Didn’t Jesus tell us that we must love even our enemies? When we can on some level even love our sins and imperfections, which are our “enemies,” we are fully conscious and fully liberated. God, who is Universal Consciousness itself, knows all things, absorbs all things, and forgives all things—for being what they are. If Jesus commands us to love our enemies, then we know that God must and will do the same. What hope and joy that gives us all! It takes away all fear of admitting our mistakes, and allows us to forgive our primary enemy which is often our self.
Let’s end this wonderful week with one of my favorite quotes from the Catholic Bible:
Yes, you love all that exists, you hold nothing of what you have made in abhorrence, for had you hated anything, you would not have formed it.
And how, had you not willed it, would a thing persist
How could it be conserved if not called forth by you?
You spare all things, because all things are yours, Lord, lover of life, you whose imperishable spirit is in all.
from Breathing Underwater: Spirituality and the Twelve Steps
“I can’t live this life without the help of God’s grace. Left to my own power, I will continue to fail. My sin humbles me. When I recognize this, I perceive an invitation for me to return to God, the eternal source of mercy. My failure reminds me of my need for God.” Encounter Jesus, Fr. Dave Pivonka, T.O.R., and Deacon Ralph Poyo