As we’ve been making our way toward Bethlehem on this Advent journey, hopefully there has been time to pause and reflect. You have found time along the way to remember, to restore and even to release. Hopefully there has been time to reconnect with what matters most to your heart, and that you have come to understand what now feels like too much to carry. Hopefully there has been time to stand still for a moment or two and look up at the moon and catch your breath. Perhaps along the way there has been turning toward or turning from in us, in you and me. Maybe small, maybe great. A shift that maybe we haven't realized yet.
This tender Advent journeying reminds us that grief is a living thing. It stretches to the point that it takes up too much room. Grief has the capacity to shut off light and balance and even hope. Left foot, right foot. What was is no longer what is. Left foot, right foot. This time, this path has been a spiritual practice. It has become a way of welcoming the Holy. This journeying through December has been a faithful practice of participation – intentionally shifting-things-around just a bit. Paying attention. Staying connected. Left foot, right foot.
It has been good to spend these Advent Fridays with the three “S’s.” A little bit ago, my sweet cousin, Lisa was telling me about a workshop she loved. Because I know well to listen to my sweet cousin, when Lisa told me what she had learned, I soaked up what she had to say. At this workshop Lisa learned about journaling and was introduced to the idea of the three “S’s:” Seeing. Savoring. Speaking. Alone and then together, Lisa told me that these three can become places of focus to perhaps be differently in the world.
For this Advent I am changing my third "S" from speaking to singing. They are sister "S's." Speaking and singing are both born on the breath. Giving energy and voice to what you have seen and savored, singing invites us to enter into what has blessed you, touched you, healed you. As we make our way closer and closer to Bethlehem, we are invited to pay attention to what we have been singing along the way. Carols? If so, which ones? Did you notice? Do you remember?
Singing has been my life's treasured companion. Always I have been strengthened by singing words that remind and teach me. Ancient songs, newer songs are friends that walk with me in my darkest times and on my best days. They nudge, comfort, re-member re-set me just enough to take the next steps.
Grief can be lonely. There are times of numbness, times of disorientation, times of our deepest despair. Music enters into these places. Music can hold these places. Music can shift what feels so wrong toward something that maybe doesn’t as much anymore. There is singing in the shower and humming in dark. There’s singing on the mountain-top and singing softly while down on your knees. There’s singing in the dark and singing at the break of dawn. Singing as a spiritual practice embodies reconnecting with our breath. In and out. In this place. In this moment. God with us. In times when we are driving down the road with the sunroof open and the wind blowing in and through, and in those times when we are jammed up in traffic – all of these moments have songs that travel with us.
Seeing what surrounds us, and what is right before our eyes. Savoring the best of being alive, when before there seemed to be no life left in us at all. Savoring the possibility of YES’ returning. And then...finally singing full-throated. Singing not because the sound is magnificent (although, trust me, it is). Singing because there is breath in you, and there are songs that need to be sung, and (trust me) songs that still need to be heard.
(thanks to Amy and Ed in Charlottesville for this picture from their back porch)