Advent, adventure, words with a common etymological root yet often poles apart.
Advent, the time when we anticipate Christmas, when we anticipate the eschaton, when we prepare to celebrate the incarnation, when we race around like headless chickens preparing to celebrate tinselmas.
Adventure, an exciting journey to new or exotic places, a chosen or unchosen diversion from the familiar, something that challenges, inspires or informs the participants.
Yet there is something that connects the two, at least where they are chosen... the moment just before it begins when, with the advance preparation done you must take the first step.
I love long distance walks, I love the planning and preparing, the anticipating and I love the experience of doing them, but there is always a moment, just a fleeting one between ending the preparation and starting the walking when a little voice says 'do you really want to do this?'
Do I really want this adventure, which will demand much of me in return for the unpredictable rewards?
Do I really want this Advent, which should demand much of me with no certainty of reward?
24 days, give or take, depending how the year falls, which to tread carefully a path that I think I know well but actually have never yet seen. 24 days to travel inwards and upwards and outwards towards a moment which only might prove meaningful. Yet not to make the journey would preclude the possibility of finding that moment.
Advent 1, I step out on the path in search of... adventure!
Whilst I sincerely hope there is not 50mm snow on our 'doomed roof', I did delight to wake to a world in white this morning. I think maybe I need to take a basic photography class at some point so I can discover how to take photos when it's dark, but here are a couple from this morning...
Maybe as a December-born I have an unusual love of snow and cold, and maybe being born into the 1962/63 winter influences that, but for me this morning is very beautiful.
And it reminds me of a litlte song I learned at around the age of six:
Snowy flakes are falling softly
Clothing all the world in white
High above the stars are shining
Twinkling through the wintry night.
Was it just like this, we wonder,
Starry bright and crisp and cold,
That joyous Chrimas night of old?
There is a second verse, I think, that is more overtly 'Christian', which I cannot recall, and purists will get hoity toity about the elision of Christmas with snow (though I think the song leaves the presence of snow as an unanswered question and makes no reference to where it might have been snowing).
Anyway, I love snow in an almost childlike way and it does make Glasgow look pretty.
So, after this morning's urgent planning meeting - amply supplied with scones (said as 'skon' not 'skown' btw) and mincepies - we are all set for our advent adventure, still in our own 'backyard' but with a hired in heater until we get our system fixed.
It was a great meeting - everyone's determination to keep the show on the road and all planned activities on target was inspiring. As was the commitment of those who took time to to come along or to phone/email their thoughts if they couldn't. What a great congregation! What a great God!
The fun part, for my perverted sense of fun, is that the heater is located in the part of the Gathering Place known as 'the snug' a little area near the servery where late comers hide and quite a few early birds choose to lurk just beyond reach. It's a great place for people with tinies as they can breast feed unobserved by 'tutters' if needed. And it's a great place for newcomers and visitors to watch from a safe distance. But it is now out of commission for the foreseeable. These people will have to be adventurous in one of two ways... either join the main body of the church (which will mean other people have to change seats) or climb the stairs to our upper deck*. The meanie within me is intrigued to see what happens on Sunday as people have to sit in new places. But the pastor within me knows that it'll be fine, that people will cope well and understand the reasons for the change.
If Advent and adventure are meant to go together, well it looks like we're on the way... Just please God, don't send 2" of snow on the 'doomed roof' before Sunday...
* It is worth noting our 'upper deck' was used recently as an overflow even with the Snug in service, we are agrowing...
Feeling a bit plethoric this morning!
How do you hear God? I think I heard God yesterday through a gas service engineer. A bit if a sense of deja vue as it reminded me of events almost exactly six years ago (ironically in 2004 all dates from 1 March onwards fell the same weekday as 2010). The scale is different, the consequences are different, the people are different, even I am different, but in this unexpected and undesired service engineer report I felt I heard God say to me, 'see, it'll be alright.'
To explain. Most of the time I remain upbeat, content with the way my treatment progresses, enjoying life and looking forward to the time beyond all this. Most of the time. But there are moments when I'm not so sure, when the 'what if fairy' of whom I've spoken before flies into my window late at night and whispers in my ear. When I began blogging this 'journey' I said I'd be honest and try not to fall into the trap of happy Christian twaddle, and whilst I think I've avoided that, perhaps I have been too eager to protect my readers from the fears and doubts that sometimes sneak in unbidden in the wee small hours. The last week or so the scary thoughts have been there lurking in the shadows and, whilst nowhere near the abject terror I felt in early September, they are pernicious.
So when the gas man made his pronouncement yesterday, it was as if God said to me, 'this is the stuff you can do, this is the stuff I knew would be needed here, this is the assurance you'll be alright.'
I'm not glad the gas man's report is causing us extra work, expense and hassle, of course not, nor do I think that God broke the flue to make me feel better about stuff, just that somehow in it all God reminded me that 'all will be well' and I needed to hear that.
Oh, btw, please don't feel bad you didn't spot I was being plagued by 'what ifs' - you can't know what I don't tell. And I am fine now, honest injun. Glasgow by frost is glorious (pace Jim) and an urgent planning meeting awaits... watch this space for exciting developments!!