Do you know the difference between wisdom and intellectual knowledge. Can you feel into that, or think it through, and discern the difference in your understanding?
The church practices the season of Advent, the weeks before Christmas. The Christian religion tends to turn it into a metaphor of waiting and hoping, encouraging people to dive a little deeper into the experience of anticipation. Of course, this causes us to step into the Christmas season a bit more meaningfully than the commercial practice most approach it with. Respecting the church's intention, still it feels somewhat contrived to me. It's the same teaching each year, and as church has a tendency to do, the subject matter introduced seems disconneced from our real struggle or life journey as we are walking it.
That's not to say there isn't value in reflecting on the practice of waiting and hoping in our lives. It's sure to better prepare us for the times we meet them unprepared, as well as giving us a deeper and more substantial experience of Christmas over the course of our lives.
Practicing Christians become accustomed to this metaphorical language to the point that it sounds almost poetic. There's a romance and rhythm to the ideas that surround the liturgical cycles and their meanings.
At our church each week volunteers determine what to put on the sign outside the church. It's one of those traditional church signs with the cute (or stupid) sayings that every other church has. This week they asked if "We Wait. We Hope. We ----." would be appropriate and we enthusiastically answered, "it's perfect."
We said that. Yet, when each of us looked at it yesterday independently of one another, both of us upon reading it thought, "That sounds strange and we sound like weirdos." We had the exact same response internally.
I found this interesting, surprising even, because we like the poetry associated with it - and some of the ceremony that comes with Advent during the Sundays that precede Christmas. I wonder, however, if churches are working too hard at creating metaphor and ritual to represent the season when people are, in all honesty, not connected to it. We need a new approach to explore these times that mark key events in the Christian calendar.
What about choosing to do a deep dive into something that needs to be reborn in us? As a community, or as an individual - and actually work our way through it, no matter what it takes?
What about looking at your relationship - one that really matters - and making a decision to do whatever it takes to heal whatever keeps one of you from loving each other fully, or explore what love really looks like when it's authentically manifested towardsone another in your life together?
These reflections ask you to work. The journeys mean more than a symbolic distraction repeating itself year after year. Meanwhile, if the tradition itself feeds your spirit, by all means do it and love it with all your heart.
There's no right or wrong in how we celebrate something like Advent. Personally, it's become a time of vision in my life. It's the incubation period before the Advent(ure) of life, life that bring brith and re-birth, transformations, joy, healing, peace, teaching, love, learning, reflecting, growth, communion, struggle, and death. This is the journey...with all its pain and joy, and this is the time I prepare for the next chapter of the adventure - whatever the next chapter holds for me.
The poetry or symbolism of waiting and hoping is only information when we're not connected to what we're waiting and hoping for. What is it that we wait and hope for at Christmas? In your most personaly journey, what does Christmas mean?
Is it a time you cherish on earth because of the memories it holds of family and days gone by? Is it a religious celebration you deeply value because you believe it happened just the way it says?
Or is it a secular or commercial holiday filled with stress, or parties, in which people seem a bit lighter for a little while?
Wisdom and information are different in that information feeds us data that we can do what we want with, process in whatever way we filter or retain it. Wisdom, on the other hand, is a deeper knowing; it is expansive and reaches above and beyond the details of information. It is a bigger awareness, a deeper knowing.
Go for the wisdom this advent, move in it as if you're dancing with it - and twirl yourself around in the expanded state of what you know for sure because your faith, your understanding knows it....without having to answer why.
Go prepare for the Advent(ure) friends...it awaits.