Shimmering vision in the morning sun
Thursday, December 15, 2011
Jesus asks, ďWhat did you go out to the desert to see?Ē
The community in which I live no longer knows how to celebrate Advent as a season of darkness and preparation, a time to focus on the shadow created by the light.
The sparkle of Christmas arrives too soon, even while the days grow shorter and the winter solstice settles on us. By December 26, life moves back in a hurry to its dreary, self-centered norm. And the warm, generous tone of Christmas, its good-will-to-all-men Charlie Brown and Linus-softness, is over just as it could be beginning.
We have lost our taste for darkness. Our senses are strung out like Christmas lights lit up all day and all night and never taken down. The warm womb-like dark of rebirth, which could be part of nearly every day, is replaced by electric light, by fluorescence, by the slightly obscene omnipresence of light whenever I want it. At midnight, at 2 a.m. Whenever Iím afraid.
Turning on the light doesnít cut it, though. God can be more present in the darkness than the light, especially when I turn the light on myself. He can be more present in the desert too, in the dryness that precedes the flood of his living water.
And God fills up silence. When silence replaces sound as the medium through which God speaks, so much more gets through. His message is not aimed at my brain; itís aimed lower, at my gut. It doesnít change my mind; it changes me.
After time in the desert, I can choose to be far less full of myself. When I live in the desert and the darkness and the silence I must confront the shallowness of my own control, the limits of my strength. Then, and maybe only then, I recognize Godís love. Itís God who is always there, itís God who is never weak or afraid, itís God who is strong. Strong for me and not against me. Always has been and always will be.
This vision is not a mirage. Or is it? In the desert, after all, the light plays tricks on my eyes Ö how do I know itís not a mirage - my vision of all-mighty-God?
Good question, this God-question. On the seventh shortest day of the year, I think Jesus is telling me to go out in the desert to ask my question. Turn out the light. Get quiet. Wait.
What do I go out to see? Who are you, God? Are you real? Am I?
No words now, Lord, just my heart waiting and open for you to come.