Friday, December 3, 2010

You and I do not face the works of darkness alone

Putting on the "armor of light" is the theme of Advent. I've been thinking much about that since Sunday when those words shaped the opening "collect," or prayer for the day.

I've been looking for that light all week, and finding it here and there in conversations, in walks in the woods, in the quiet moments by the fire at home. I've felt the Holy presence among many of you as we've talked about the things that matter, and laughed about some of things that really don't.

It is getting colder now in Virginia, and most of the leaves are off the trees. In a matter of a few weeks, the landscape has gone from technicolor to sepia and is now heading into a black-and-gray dreariness. Morning frost tinges the brown leaves that cover our front yard. The darkness of winter is descending, and finding sunlight is an ever-present challenge. I do pine for the open expanses of the West this time of year, the glistening spires of the Sierra Nevada, the deep blue-green of the Pacific. Those places seem so very distant now.

My priest friend Barbara Crafton from New Jersey wrote something earlier this week that struck a chord with me, and I share it with you:
Into this discouraging landscape comes news: you are not alone is your struggle to live your life. You do not face the works of darkness alone. No, you're not all-powerful and unerring. Yes, there are many things about you that you wish were other than they are. But fear not: you have armor. You have help in putting aside that which is not life-giving.

Christ comes "in great humility," we notice. The first coming is not a clash of cymbals, but a baby's cry. An infant, who can't even feed himself, who has no accomplishments, from whom nobody can expect anything. Good idea: the powerlessness we expect in four week's time is the powerlessness I feel. A community of love will raise this Child, a mother and father will care for him and guide him. He will not have to make it on his own, as I do not. And within His weakness, with which I identify so completely? Nothing less than the might that created the universe and everything in it.

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