Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Advent: Winter of the Spirit

Though I have long lived away from the climates that offer four seasons, I think it's a disadvantage to never have lived to experience at least once each season in its fullness. Most places offer three seasons and parts of a fourth. Our calendars and lives are marked by the seasons.

But it's not as easy to name our current spiritual season. Many of the biblical references to the seasons are tied to the growing calendar, the rural festivals that reflected Israel at a certain stage of being settled as opposed to being nomadic. Whatever season we find ourselves in, each spiritual season comes with unique invitations to experience new depths of God's love and grace.

Winter deals specifically with dormancy. What is within that is just beginning, waiting for its time to come? Waiting and patience thus becomes winter's spiritual work. Thomas Keating once wrote that the virtue of humility requires or assumes humiliation. In similar fashion, the only way to more patience is through the sometimes long wait which feels like dormancy. There's little sense of accomplishment.

If the invitation is for you, obey it. Listen to it. Freely choose it. It will be difficult to hear it in all the voices, both within and around us, coaching on to self-produce our perfect little Christmas, believing the lie that we can have life and Jesus and spirituality and everything on our terms. However, being faithful to the growth of God's kingdom -rule growing secretly is what you will gain. (Mark 4:26)

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