16th century English poet and priest, John Donne said that “to love God is to follow the mystery, to be led by its showing and withdrawing.” So, what does that mean…to follow the mystery? We live in a world where truth is defined as a collection of knowledge, as the accumulation of things known, of things proven. We do not do well with mystery. We attempt to conquer it, rather than follow it. We pray that God will somehow swoop in and finally clear all of this chaos up for us once and for all. We pray that God will give us understanding and easy roads. We pray for enlightenment. We pursue certainty. We try to figure it all out. And then Advent comes…
Behold! Hear this! Keep awake! Be not afraid! You see, things are about to change. The world as you know it is about to be shaken to its core or, at least, to its senses. All of those things that you have placed around you in at attempt to control your life will mean nothing. All of those expectations that you have wrapped around yourself in an effort to prepare for the future are probably keeping your hands from doing what they are meant to do. And as hard as it is for this “Type A” personality to admit, it is not our job to conquer the chaos of the world by organizing it into something that makes sense to us; rather, we are called to follow the Divine Mystery as it illuminates everything around us. We are called to open our eyes to see what God is showing us.
Don’t get me wrong. I love preparing for Christmas. I love buying and wrapping gifts. I love Christmas trees and lights. I love baking and giving what I’ve baked away. And all of those things are on my “to do” list. But Advent is about mystery. It is about being open to the revealing of the One whom we cannot define or control. It is about being open to the possibility that God will enter this seemingly God-forsaken world not with loud, thrashing pronouncements so that we are certain that’s who it is, but more like a whisper in the quiet of the night in a small town and an unkempt grotto in the midst of the chaotic reality of this world. Advent is about letting go of certainty and following the mystery.
In this season of Advent, give yourself the gift of not needing to be certain, of not needing to have everything planned. Give yourself the gift of being open to the mystery that enters your life.
Grace and Peace,