Friday's Theme: Messengers
Even in these first days of December, things are feeling different to me. November brought almost too much to pray over. Emotions ran high, sleep was felt elusive. Everything felt on edge. December brings the opportunity for turning the page – literally and figuratively – and starting anew. For me the familiar carols help. For me, seeing the branches on the trees, bare and vulnerable help.
My soul resonates with trees. Way back in February `Trees’ was the theme for our Women’s church retreat. We spent the weekend learning and reading about, sitting under, hugging, sketching, praying and singing beside trees. Trees are such great life-teachers. One of the messages for me from the weekend was about their cooperation and collaboration with and for one another. We learned about and then saw that trees don’t crash into one another. Over time, months into years they grow close-by one another. Sometimes they weave around one another. They make a way. They share resources and space. Over time they live into ways that speak to yes/and. All around us, these messengers are living out ways for us to learn - there is room enough for all of us.
It seems like a funny request to invite one another to be more vulnerable when we are living in days of wearing masks and social distancing. Something feels very contrary about that. And then I wonder if there ever could be a better time to consider being more vulnerable – with others as well as ourselves. Here in these Pandemic days could there be a better time of risking openness and transparency? Could there be a better time for cooperation and collaboration, like our tree-teachers? These are surely uncharted days for us. These are days that can throw us off at a moment’s notice. And the truth is, these may just be the most precious days of our lives. We are learning by the hour about who we are at our very core. We are learning to reconsider what matters most. Like it or not, we are learning about our great and small vulnerabilities.
This past Sunday I wrote about ways that trees are able to show us their histories in their rings. Now in these early December days the trees around us are teaching us another lesson. These trees of all heights and shapes are showing us what can be seen when their leaves fall away. Appearing to be stripped bare, yet they stand tall. December invites us, using trees as our teachers, to risk a vulnerability of being more fully seen. No longer covered up, their branches reaching up and up, beyond what was before. Perhaps we, too can follow the wisdom of these teachers and risk being seen, if even just a little bit in this Advent season. Maybe we, too can risk being vulnerable in new ways. Maybe we too, will better see and appreciate one another as we grow in far-stretching ways. Maybe we too, can heed their lesson of believing there truly is room enough for all of us. Look around, as far as the eye can see, our messengers are showing us a new way.
"Time is different here," I heard my Mom's voice say a couple months after her death. Journeying through these Covid-19 days, remind me of the gift of those words. You are invited companion me on this 2020 Advent journey to Bethlehem, as we seek Emmanuel, God who promises always to be with us.