Sunday, November 29th, Advent I, being Aware
Isaiah 64:1-9, Psalm 80.1–7, 16–18, 1 Corinthians 1:3-9, Mark 13:24-37
This is not just about staying awake on the face of it, or not sleeping. Maybe this means more about what we pay attention to and actually notice.
Bo Lozoff, talks about a painting from Tibet. A boy is sitting in the morning sun with his cup of tea. There is a fly buzzing around his cup of tea, and he has his hand covering the cup of tea, why?
So the fly won’t end up in the tea. In the west we would not want the fly to spoil our tea, but the Tibetan understanding, so that the fly doesn’t die in the tea.
And what do we notice?
When in a parish in Montreal, I went with the wardens to the bank to sign some forms. As we walked down the hall to an office, we past an employee, and then I saw on the wall a notice with his picture showing he was the employee of the month. When I mentioned it to Sammy, he said he did not notice. I was surprised because he was an ex policeman from Barbados. Then again at around six foot four and is laid back, he doesn’t have to walk around the city watching like little five foot four me. He was obviously paying attention to something else.
This time is different. It is as if we have been in a time of Advent since March. We have been isolating, social distancing and wearing masks. Even when we have gathered, there is a tension, and the enjoyment is decreased by the stress and vigilance. It is as if we have been keeping our hand constantly on the tea cup and watching those around us like we are in a big bad city. When can we begin to remove our hand from the tea cup and be laid back and relaxed like Sammy?
Given my story, maybe I’m the wrong one to ask, but this Advent may be a time to start to do the things we can enjoy, if we haven’t started already. Although the weather is now moving in the wrong direction, walking and otherwise finding a routine with different activities is said to help. Margaret Ely mentioned writing thoughts down, so journaling or a diary may be helpful. And when we get too down and negative with our writing and thoughts, a suggestion from Peter Davison comes to mind. He spoke at a joint dinner with Roman Catholic and Anglican seminarians. He suggested when a person came to confession and confessed the same neurotic fault over and over again, that the next time the person came for confession Peter would ask them to tell him three things they liked about themselves before hearing the negative confession. I wonder if when we have negative thoughts or writings and are gloomy and dark, we think of three good things in our lives.