Keep Awake

We’re only at the beginning of the journey.  It’s only the second day of Advent but the call is persistent. In the meditations arriving daily in my email, I’m being asked to name what it is that I need to awaken this Advent season.  For surely, this is how the story begins.  We’re looking.  We’re groping.  We’re reaching.  To find God.  In places that we can’t imagine or expect.  We’re trying to keep awake to see where we might find God here and now.

And so, I’m trying to keep awake.  I’m trying to notice things that I wouldn’t have otherwise noticed.  You know, there are those things that we take for granted.  We always assume that they’ll be there.  They are symbols of what we believe to be true — and our Christian faith is full of those things.  We’re not sure what they mean but they’ve always been there.  This is how I feel about evergreens.  They’re a pagan symbol of immortality.  So, the German pagans that liked this symbol so much put evergreen branches in their homes to ward off evil spirits.  (I don’t understand the connection to evil spirits and immortality, but that’s the tradition.)  We do it now.

This is my tree.

I did it this weekend.  Like so many in Maine, I ventured into the cold and chopped down my tree.  OK.  That’s not true.  My dear friend Dustin cut down the tree.  I stood by cheering.  Now, I have an evergreen symbol in my home adorned in lights — but when it came to my Advent wreath, I didn’t really want evergreens.

I wanted something else.  Still, I brought my hoop to church and went to the workshop where the greens are usually found.  I wasn’t sure if I would decorate the wreath.  I hadn’t really decided.  But, then, someone donated a bundle of grapevines.  Brown and gnarled vines.  That seemed like Advent to me.  It speaks to the unlikely possibility that swords could turn into ploughshares.  It evokes the strange mystery that something impossible will happen.  God is going to appear.  Not how you or I expect but God will appear — and I want to be awake enough to notice.

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