The slow proceedings of the Advent season are purposeful in their unraveling. Hope gives way to peace. From a place of pure peace, we can experience unadulterated joy. From authentic joy, we see the world through a lens of unbridled love. Each season of Advent fulfills a purpose so that, on Christmas morning, the ultimate gift may be received.
Today, let us reflect on the the journey that led us to this moment - the last Sunday of Advent - the final waiting before the coming of the King. As educators, we finally rest in the calm after the storm. Let us fill our hearts with quiet meditations that bring this season full circle, reflecting on the equation that leads to the greatest gift and commandment of all. Where are we going? Where have we already been?
A journey of becoming
Throughout this month, we have covered a lot of territory. First, we created sacred daily rhythms to ground us as we meditated on the themes of this Advent season: revival, restoration, and revelation. We embraced the practices of daily scripture reading, prayer, no phones while waiting, and creating a physical space for God. We learned not to overcomplicate any of the above. Scripture reading doesn't have to be lengthy and prayers don't have to be eloquent at the end of a wearisome day. Our phones can simply stay in our pockets and that old comfy chair or a corner of a closet can become our sanctuary as we lean into the holiness of God. The purpose in all of these practices was to stop doing, and focus on becoming that who we truly are: beloved children of God despite of, and because of, the beautiful messiness of our souls.
Through our experience as educators in 2020, we have learned that hope cannot be found by looking outward. Social media is discouraging in its barrage of political opinions and fake news and we have all spent too much time reading commentaries as to whether or not we should be back in school. We have been criticized, demonized, and downright pummeled with a lack of empathy for our positions while we simultaneously became honorary MDs overnight. The only way to find hope is by turning inward and focusing our gaze upward. Most frequently, we could find this solace only in scripture and intentional time with God.
As hope became more prevalent to us through God's Word, we found that we were more readily able to cultivate an atmosphere of peace not only in our hearts, but in our schools. We learned to slow down, open our Bibles, and then, present ourselves in prayer. Through intentional communion with God and re-centering our hearts, we could adjust our focus and align with the Holy One through a spirit of hope that cultivated peace. We realized that there truly is no peace without prayer.
Last week, peace gave way to joy. Joy in the ordinary and in the mundane. We grappled with the distinction between happiness and joy, and realized that joy isn't this fleeting, transient emotion that bubbles up and then quickly disappears. Joy is more selfless and sacrificial. It is less self-indulgent and it carries great depth. Joy must be consistently sought after in our daily rhythms, as we practice naming our gratitudes, celebrating that which is good, and, again, praying without ceasing every single day.
A formula for Love
And now, all of our new learning and waiting leads us to one grand finale. It doesn't come in like a Fourth of July celebration, however, but rather, it's carried in on a whisper and guided by a star. We feel it in our hearts as we begin to slightly tremble. Something is lurking on the horizon. We feel it in our bones.
Something is lurking on the horizon. We cannot see it yet, although we already know what it is. We anticipate it, knowing it has come before, and yet also, has never been. Despite our tendency to rush towards it, we are asked to linger still, just a little longer, in the in between. So we obediently get still. We wait and we watch. We behold in a state of wonder. Something is lurking. We can feel it in our souls.
And as we wait, we find hope. And that hope bleeds into peace. And we multiply that hopeful peace by joy. The end result? Love. As we wait both for God and with God, we can expect that the final outcome is love in human form.
It has been an honor to walk alongside you in this Advent journey. To all of my educator friends, I wish you a season of rest in God's love and light. Should you wish to linger a little longer, may the following questions guide the quiet reflections of your soul.
Linger a Little Longer:
1. Which of the aforementioned themes served you most during this Advent season? Hope? Peace? Joy? Love? In what ways did you feel the most revived? Restored?
2. How did the Lord reveal himself to you this Advent season? What will you carry with you into the great beyond?
3. How have the sacred daily rhythms of Advent served to ground you as an educator? Which practice would you like to continue to practice in the rhythm of your every day life?