We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.
This season of Advent just seems to do a number on me.
Yes, there is the absurd rush, the frenzy to not miss a single party or sale or movie opening. But there is also, from time to time, a sense of the surreal that breaks through.
It’s another kind of absurd altogether — a fuller sense of the “absurd” reality that we Christians profess. We are reminded this time of year more than any other that our God, the “one God, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth” chose to appear to Creation in the form of an utterly helpless infant, born to a young unwed girl under desperate conditions.
Maybe I just manage to keep this absurdity at bay better during other seasons, more easily brushing off the sheer wonder and profound beauty of a single human breath. Not so much during the longer, colder nights of Advent.
When I refer to the long, cold nights of this season, it has little to do with shorter hours of daylight in the northern hemisphere. For me, these “long and cold nights” are more of a spiritual description than thermal — the darker, longer, colder nights of the soul. Watching lights on a Christmas tree in the quiet dark lead to a deep stirring within. My truest heart desires something intensely, to know something and to know it deeply. And yet, that heart is not really sure what it is yearning, sure only in the deepest feeling that whatever it is, Whoever it is, it IS.
Most times when I am asked by the Celebrant to “stand and profess our faith in the words of the Nicene Creed,” I begin to mindlessly recite the words, and just gloss over the opening sentence, and its enormously powerful last phrase. But it is this darkness of Advent that reminds me more clearly that God is the maker of “the seen and the unseen.” God has made not just the stars in the heavens and the hairs on my head — not just what can be seen through telescopes and microscopes — but the Unseen, too. We are surrounded by a holy host of maybes, which (or who) somehow swirl around us at the most needful of times, like a snowfall at night, unseen until one awakes in the morning, and realizes what has been going on while we slept.
This time of year leads me to understand more clearly that part of our human nature is to seek and yearn for the unknown. And it leads me to believe more and more that this very human trait exists because we have been “created” to seek and yearn for a Creator. We are meant to bathe in that Mystery. And perhaps, such a Divine (?) purpose goes even further. Part of my “rent” for occupying space on this planet is to purposefully search for that Mystery not only in what is “seen” around me in this universe, but also in the “unseen,” in those closest to me, and ultimately in myself.
And I as engage in that exploration, I am bound to be in that state perpetually. I am like Bono singing “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for…” and I’m beginning to understand I never really will. Advent is telling me that the finding comes most often in the searching itself. The “answer” is not discovered by “arriving” at a destination but in the journey along the way.
And the deepest of such yearning is to know and feel Emmanuel. God with us.
God– the of the omnipotent loving Creator
With– not over us or far away, but closer than close, touching us and everything in our existence
Us – in this tiny speck of dust that is our little corner of galaxy in the universe.
I become like the author of Psalm 8 when confronting such things. Such knowledge is too good for me; I cannot attain it.
I can only yearn for it.