Tag Archives: nature

God’s Jokes

23 Sep
Photo via Flickr user ChrisA1995

Photo via Flickr user ChrisA1995

Each fall I retreat with youth, away from the city.

Away from the city, where one need not be so on guard, the beauty of giving to all around many again rise in you. –Rumi

In past years, I have been in charge of the teaching on fall retreat. I pick a theme, research, acquire resources, design activities and discussions. I put a lot of time into constructing and then executing curriculum. On retreat specifically, the teaching never feels great. I feel like the bad guy. I think it’s mostly because the whole time we are doing something formal, I can sense the youth just want to be on retreat, outside, having fun, seeing where the wind takes them. They want space to play and relax, think and laugh. They desperately need unstructured time. And there is something about nature that calls this to attention for them even more.

This world needs our warmth against it, or things will perish. –Rumi

This year we are trying something different. There is very little agenda. We will eat, have a bonfire, play games, and sing. I sense it is the right thing to do. Instead of forcing structured times of learning, I’m leaning into their desire to retreat into nature, where benevolence has the space to rise up in them and remind them of their true nature.

I, for one, am excited. When I head on retreat in charge of a full itinerary, I can take myself too seriously. In this case, the easier thing may be the right thing. We are simply getting on a bus, going somewhere beautiful away from the city, and spending time together. My guess is that God will show up in ways we cannot even anticipate.

Away from the city, where you need not be so on guard, you are more apt to realize…God tells a lot of jokes. –Rumi

Advent Waiting

5 Dec
via Flickr user Timothy Boocock

via Flickr user Timothy Boocock

A friend of mine always says, “When it gets dark, you can either rush to turn on a light or you can sit still and wait for your eyes to adjust to the darkness.” I think of that often during Advent. When we are busy and bustling, it is easy to go to the quick fix of the light switch. It is easy to just get busier as a way to avoid the quiet of the darkness and the voices in the back of our minds. Advent invites us to fight the instinct to get busier or rush to turn on the light. Advent invites us to sit in the dark, waiting, and let our eyes adjust until we realize how much light has always been there waiting for us to notice.

I have always loved Advent. In Minnesota, nature reflects the liturgical season in the most precious of ways. The days are short and darkness prevails. We still wonder at the beauty and hush that comes with each new snowfall. We get out blankets, light fires, make hot chocolate and decorate our houses with white lights that dance on the white snow. We hunker down. February is all about fighting the darkness and bundling up to take the cold head on, but in Advent, we welcome the new chill as an invitation to slow down. We snuggle into the new pace and let our shoulders relax a bit. It feels decadent and womb-like.

This Advent, the process of slowing down and adjusting to the cold and dark is intensified by the birth of my first child on November 23rd, one week before the start of Advent. We are learning each other, spending a lot of time staring at each other and snuggling on the couch. It is a time filled with hushed wonder, overwhelming goodness and abundant love. My to-do list has evaporated, and I am reveling in the moments I can be fully present to this new little person in my life.

A few days after getting home from the hospital, I got an Advent intention card from my church with the theme and sermon series for Advent. The card has a lone, snowy evergreen sitting in a dark night with one bright star shedding just enough light. It reads, “What if this year you slowed long enough for the God of the Universe to find you…to be with you…to dwell within you?”

The card was a beautiful validation of the shift already taking place in my heart and being. I am going to keep the card visible this Advent as a reminder that there is goodness in just being still. Waiting can be hard. Darkness can be hard. Being still can be hard for us. But if we slow just a bit, maybe the God of the Universe will swell and dwell in each of us. For me, there is comfort in being sought and found by the God who created us and loves us all. And in that slowness, may we find time to recognize the God dwelling in us and be filled with hushed wonder and awe.

%d bloggers like this: