Behold I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. Revelation 22:12
I was one of those melancholy kids who felt disappointed after Christmas day. It’s wasn’t because I didn’t get good gifts, I always did. But there was always this nigglling thought “This is it?” “This is what all the excitement and the anticipation is about?” I wasn’t feeling the satisfaction I thought I would. I would feel deceived by the unspoken promise that Christmas would make all my dreams come true. My parents, who didn’t realize that they were raising an old soul found me ungrateful. And I questioned that about myself too, “Do I not appreciate all that’s been done and given to me?” But of course I did, I just was tuned in to a deeper longing that had yet to be fulfilled. And I believe that longing is evidence of eternity being written on our souls.
I still have those feelings, but not as strong. As an adult who is responsible for making the magic happen, I now tend to feel relieved after the holidays with thoughts, that I can now slow down and enjoy the afterglow of the season. And I have, through experience, adjusted those expectations, being more familiar with the “this is it?” feeling, I can welcome it as an old friend.
Because I know now that our waiting, our anticipation each Christmas is a spiritual warm up exercise preparing us, as part of humanity, for something that is to come.
The problem occurs when I lose the wonder and anticipation and even the ache of the longing. I’ve learned like many others to numb that ache with busyness, with “overly sweet” joys that later give a tummy ache (both literally and figuratively) I can easily find myself over-shopping, over-eating, over-watching cheesy hallmark Christmas movies this time of year. Trying on some level, to satisfy the ache deep within but just creating a sense of spiritual fog.
This year I’ve picked up Tsh Oxenreider’s book Shadow and Light, an advent devotional meant to help me sit with and appreciate that ache and listen to what it is telling me.
Tsh states “Advent is wisely designed to help us contemplate what it means to need the presence of God before feasting on it” Who doesn’t fully enjoy a meal when they are completely aware of being famished? Who doesn’t enjoy a cold drink of water when they are deeply aware of their thirst.
When we fill up on junk food we lose our appetite. Advent helps us clear some spiritual space. Celebrations and traditions are good and bring joy, but like any good thing, can be overused or used for the wrong purpose. We are creatures determined to increase our comfort and pleasure, and in our desire to avoid pain, we sometimes numb aches that are important for us to feel. But when we numb, we may become unaware of our need.
Revelations 22-17 ( Almost the very end of the Word of God) says The Spirit and the bride say “Come!” And let him who hears say “Come!” Whoever is thirsty, let him come and whoever wishes let him take the free gift of the water of life.
Let us never forget how thirsty we are, and let us seek out and be all the more satisfied with the free gift that is ours through Christ Jesus, who’s birth we celebrate this month.
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