“It takes just a second, but that’s my spiritual discipline—turning my chair to be available for God.”
-April Yamasaki (Sacred Pauses: Spiritual Practices for Personal Renewal)*
The simple, seemingly trivial act of turning one’s chair in order to be available to God…how absurd! And yet, how beautifully true! There is so much in our lives today that distracts us from our relationship with God, from seeking to live as Christ lived, from walking the path of Christian perfection (thanks JW!). All of the media outlets, the ads, the fear-mongering blogs and talking heads on various news agencies, the sheer amount of crap that companies relentlessly try and sell us, there is so much that gets in the way! This seems especially so during the season of Advent, the time the Church sets aside in order to prepare God’s people for the Christ, both his coming as a child as well as his coming in glory the second time around.
We get so caught up in Christmas fervor, so bent out of shape when people say “Happy Holidays” (which is technically correct), so angry when the abbreviation “X-Mas” is used in place of “Christmas” (the “X” is a Greek “chi” which stands for “Christ”), so maddeningly wrapped up in the purchasing of all the right gifts and making it to the right parties, etc., etc. that we lose sight of that which we are to be preparing for. Maybe we just need to turn our chair a bit…
And that’s just the Christmas timeframe. Let’s not forget about all of the other things in our daily lives that can potentially distract, if not separate us, from God. Work, family, friends, addictions and negative habits, apathy and callousness, the list is nearly infinite; some of these things are good in and of themselves, and some, not so much. If we allow them, they can all become distractions just like the windstorm, the earthquake, and the fire was for Elijah as he was waiting to hear from God. And yet, God came as a still small voice; God came in the quiet, the silence in the void of all that activity.
This is certainly not the only way in which God communicates with us, but it is rather telling that God can speak to us in the quiet found amidst all the commotion…if we would but turn our chairs, opening ourselves to the holy and mysterious, to the God who can speak in the silence. We have become so accustomed to noise and activity that for many, quietness, silence on our part, can be quite uncomfortable. It’s uncomfortable for me…to just be…to be present and open to the Lord to speak and act and move and for me to not be doing something. But sometimes that’s precisely what we need, a little bit of divinely inspired discomfort paired with our willingness to truly listen to God.
Thanks be to God for such an uncomfortably powerful way of communicating with us. May we be more attuned to the silence, the quiet, during the season of Advent as we prepare ourselves for the coming of our Lord.