Thursday, November 30, 2006

Advent is About the Power of Emptiness

Today, as I was preparing for next Sunday, I found myself looking forward to the beginning of Advent. I don't know about you, but right now I could use some of the quiet reflection this season offers.

Bob Carlton points us to a reflection by Benedictine Sr. Joan Chittister:

...Advent is about the power of emptiness and the spiritual meaning of smallness.

When we have little to begin with, we have even less to lose. We know, then, that we don't have all the ideas or all of the answers. It means that we have nothing to fight over and even less to boast about in life. We become full of possibility.

When we know who we really are, when we present no disguises and parade no pretensions, when we are honest both with ourselves and with others, we fired ourselves free to be ourselves. We have no image to keep up, no lies to gild in a gilded society. We become full of integrity.

When we learn to live with the basics rather than to hoard what does not belong to us, we can never be made bereft by the loss of life's little baubles because we never depended on them in the first place. We become full of contentment.

When we recognize our own limitations, we need never fear failure. Then we can't possibly be destroyed by losing because we never anointed ourselves entitled to win. We become full of confidence.

Finally, when Advent seeps into our souls, we come to understand that small is not nothing and empty is not bereft. To be small is to need, to depend on the other. Smallness bonds us to the rest of the human race and frees us from the arrogant isolation that kills both the body and the soul. To be empty is to be available inside to attend to something other than the self. We become full of the blessings of life.

Then, emptied out by the awareness of our own smallness, we may have the heart to identify with those whose emptiness, whose poverty of spirit and paucity of life is involuntary. Then, we may be able to become full human beings ourselves, full of compassion and full of consciousness...
If you are looking for a devotional resource to use during this season, the Diocese of Washington is once again offering an Advent Calendar featuring daily meditations.

As we enter this season of preparation for the coming of Christ as a child in a manger and for his coming again in great glory on the last day, may we empty ourselves, and allow Christ to be born anew within our hearts.


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