Friday, December 2, 2022
There are always things to pack when stepping out on a journey, always things to take with you. I’ve already confessed that I’m not a super-packer, taking three pairs of shorts and no swimsuit kinds of things. Some things are more vital than others. These days those of us privileged, can literally take a long journey with one small, plastic card. But there was a time when coins jingled in pockets. A time centuries ago when the coins in your pocket told everything about you that anyone needed to know. A coin of the realm served as your entry, your passport.
The coin of the realm. This is a new expression for me. As Dad would say, “I must have been sick the day they taught this one in school.” It’s new to my head and my heart, but one that surely resonates with me. Marriam-Webster says it’s “something of value or something used as if it were money in a particular sphere.” It’s the recognized, common currency that these days refers to something nuanced and not necessarily money.
These days as I was anticipating this Advent time, I’ve been asking myself - what coins been jingling around in my pocket? Which are well-used coins? Which one is valued most? What is reachable and used over and over? What coin will be the first one chosen? And which one is tucked safe away, maybe not taken out at all?
They say there are two sides to every coin. Both sides are needed and useful for the knowing of each token. Front and back. One side, then the other. One and the same piece, but different images from one another.
For today’s journey I’m considering four coins that seem to be jiggling in my pocket: singing and silence, being in motion and being at rest, the third is lamenting and rejoicing and the fourth is forgiving and being forgiven.
There have been a couple times in the days leading up to Advent when I’ve been alone walking – around the neighborhood or down by the water. Times when my mind is wandering, and my feet are left foot and right footing. And out of nowhere, I have just started singing. Out loud, singing. Not that at-the-top-of-my-lungs singing, but the this-is-coming-from-the- depths-of-me place. “When peace like a river attendeth my way,” “Rivers belong where they can ramble,” “My Lord, what a morning.” If this ever happens to you, the old music therapist in me wants to encourage you to sing the song all the way through. Sing it until you’re done. Don’t stop too early. I’ve come to believe every time a song comes like this, there’s a message from you to you… And the other side of this first coin is silence. This silence that comes when everything else is moved out of the way. The holding place of silence where space is cleared for deep breathing. When my heart is cleared for deep listening. When nothing is…and then everything is … or maybe just something… Enough.
Being in motion on one side and being at rest on the other is the second coin I’m pulling out of my pocket to examine. This is a season, this time of Advent. Hours into days into weeks. Autumn into winter. Four weeks is a good amount of time for nudging and observing and maybe making a change or two. I remember that notion of things in motion stay in motion, things at rest…Well I'm proud to announce that this is my first Advent as a senior citizen. Wow. And with that said, I am mindful of not nearly “being done” yet. The call to be in motion is a feather tickling my ear throughout the day. With the gift of retirement, I am able to make choices once reserved for carved out vacation or weekend time. Truly a daily gift. And being at rest is the notion of this season. Odd thing to talk about resting when on a journey, from here to Bethlehem. But / and it goes to the heart of what this journey is about and why this matters so much to me. The notion of allowing my heart to catch up with all that has happened this year. Allowing my spirit to re-collect and re-member gifts and graces that have been with me all along.
Lamenting and rejoicing. Holding on and letting go. Tears and laughter. Breathing in and breathing out. Left foot, right foot and then repeat. This coin is well worn. Sometimes I reach for it in my pocket, not to take it out, but just to hold on to it. Sometimes this coin is my touchstone, knowing that one side carries as much value as the other. Recalling all that has brought me here, to this day in early December, I treasure this two-sided token that means more to me than money. Lamenting and rejoicing, separately and paired serve as companions for me.
The fourth coin has forgiving on one side and being forgiven on the other side. Honestly, I know this is the coin I chose weeks before this journey began. This is the coin that rattles around the loudest in my heart. And this coin seems to want to stay right where it is in my pocket. This is the coin I’m not able to take out and talk about. Not yet.
Four coins of the realm. Four coins carried with me through this Advent territory. The first coin of this journeying-through-land has singing on one side and silence on the other. The second speaks to being in motion and being at rest. The third coin, the well-worn one is the dullest in my pocket. Dull not because it has no shimmer to it, instead it is the coin that has been held onto the most. And the fourth coin is one I just need to keep praying over. as is often said in the south. Four coins of the realm. Four expressions of currency. Four priceless pieces that jiggle in my ear and in my heart as I continue on this journey to the manger.
Gracious God, your lovingkindness jingles in our hearts as we make our way this day. With each step, we draw closer to the Promise that awaits in Bethlehem. With each breath, we draw closer to you. Our coins of the realm symbolize what we value and hold. You, generous God hold on to us. And in so many ways, we are thankful. Amen.