It was October 31st when I last wrote on this blog.
There are excuses for this – I’m tired, I’m stressed, life’s busy. And these things are true; of course they’re true, they define and shape life. Their weight is tangible.
But carrying that weight is exhausting. The whole thing becomes self-perpetuating, exposing our weakness but also making it worse. And so I’ve not written this blog since October 31st, even though this is one of the ways I try to hear his voice, to focus on something bigger than myself.
But right now I’m looking at an Advent Crown, and the first candle is flickering at the front of church. I was tempted to look up the traditions, to see what that candle meant to generations of Christians. But all the testimonies I’ve heard today have been about one thing. “The Word become flesh and made his dwelling among us.”
That sometimes makes me uncomfortable, because I can’t say I feel God’s presence all that often. I’m more of a thinker than a feeler, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But it carries with it an eternal danger – that the absence of a feeling will define my reality.
Because it doesn’t matter what I feel; after all, my emotions lie to me often enough. Just because I don’t feel God’s presence, doesn’t mean he’s not that. We speak a lot about seeking God’s presence, about going out and looking for him. Sometimes that feels like a cosmic game of hide and seek, where we’re following clues and he’s giggling in a wardrobe somewhere. Maybe there’s some use in these metaphors, but they forget something immense and important.
God is here. He’s always here. He’s always been here. He always will be. We can go back to emotion and say that there are times and places where he seems closer, almost physically presenr, but that’s our imperfect experience of reality, a reality in which God is omnipresent.
So in a field next to a countryside retreat centre, God is present. In that homeless shelter in the middle of the city, God is present. In the spaces between us, God is present.
Advent’s all about the countdown to the moment of incarnation, and it’s a beautiful time of year because that whole concept is an amazing, glorious explosion of God’s love. But it weaves a story that ensures that God’s presence is with us always. God doesn’t leave us orphans.
What I need to seek isn’t God’s presence, because that’s already here. No, I need to see the ways in which that reality is reflected in my life. God’s not a flash mob, popping up for my entertainment; he’s a father and a king and a healer and a creator, and maybe we ‘find’ him when we engage with him as such, rather than trying to track him down as an experience. Heck, I was awestruck when I visited Niagara Falls, but I’m not sure how much comfort that is if I can’t sleep at night.
So maybe that’s my Advent quest for 2013…