A New Advent: Moving Through Barriers

Advent has crept back into our lives like an unanswered question in the dark of night.  Is it really true that there is nothing in my life cannot be overcome by a Divine solution?  We enter the physical darkness of December and as the winter begins to take hold, nature is seemingly on hold.  The challenges and questions we confronted and carried within ourselves in the growing seasons have remained largely unanswered and unresolved.  Did God send us a message and we simply missed the text message?  Did God whisper the answer in our ear while we slept and we simply forgot what was said?  Or have we been so focused on getting an answer from “out there” that we have overlooked the answer we have always carried within our heart?  These questions haunt us during Advent and the unfamiliar night sky, whose constellations once seemed implacable and sure, now causes us to wonder.

There is something to be said about embracing the darkness, as our Advent hymn, “Holy Darkness” reveals to us.  Nothing is insurmountable.  We overcome all things with time, persistence, focus and faith. Whatever the question or problem, there is always a response or solution, but so often we are looking for a billboard when we should be looking for something as small and deceptively innocuous as a snow drop blooming in December snow.  Advent is the perfect time to look unflinchingly within, with the certain knowledge that whatever shadows might be encountered, all things are working for our highest good. Clearing out the fear, opening our heart and mind to the possible shows us every time that nothing has to be impossible.

The first step, then, in any spiritual journey is to trust that whatever the question or challenge, it can be overcome or resolved.  Sometimes this insight “feels” right, but more often than not, there is no comforting emotion to be found—we are simply forced to make a choice between believing in Divine Order or believing in cosmic disarray.  There really aren’t any other options! Accepting the truth of Divine Order allows us the space to find inner strength and courage to move through any crisis life may throw at us.  The second step in this process is to enlist the support of people we trust to help us sift through the experiences and frustrations, and ultimately, to learn for ourselves the truth that God is trying to teach us through our experiences. Just as God’s breath over the chaos waters brought forth order and beauty in the physical world, so too that same divine breath that sustains our life has the power to transform us and our situation.  Enlisting the divine in others only amplifies the creative energy of God—and nevermind if our confidants share insights that seem impractical or idealistic.  God has chosen humanity to bring all creation into the Kingdom transformed, so clearly, you and I are much more powerful than we sometimes imagine. 

Often we are oblivious to Advent’s teaching because we are so fixated on finding the BEST solution, or the MOST satisfying explanation to our dilemma.  Frankly, life is imperfect and most often there is no best choice—there is only a choice to make so we can begin moving beyond whatever is limiting us, our relationship with God, or obstructing our path to wholeness. At the very least, making a choice, even if it isn’t the ideal one, can give us a sense of peace before we have to figure out what our next course of action will be.

When we feel overwhelmed by the scope of our situation or questions, it helps to remember those who have come before us who have turned challenges and tragedy into victory and joy. A poor male child, raised without the ability to read or write was able to embrace his vocation as Messiah and brought the peace and reconciliation of God to people in darkness. It is this victory of Christ that undergirds all of our preparations for Christmas, because Christ is the sure light at the end of our tunnel. We are not alone, we have resources within and without ourselves at every moment, and even if we make choices that turn out not to be truly in our best interest, Advent reminds us that ultimately, every path, every highway and trail leads ultimately to Bethlehem, the House of Bread. In Christ and through Christ and with Christ, we move forward.  We mature in faith.  We find answers.  We prevail.


About frmichelrcc

I have a degree in religious studies from the University of Wisconsin, did graduate work in theology at St. Norbert College, De Pere, Wisconsin, and also at St. Paul's University in Ottawa. I have been a Benedictine since I first professed as an oblate in 1982, making final profession in 2009. I have worked as vocations director in a large diocese in the mid-west and am a spiritual director in the Benedictine tradition. I have 3 sons, one of whom is now in God's loving embrace in eternity, and 2 grandsons, Bradley and Jacob.
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