I’m beginning the season of Advent leading a week-end retreat in Island Bay Wellington, writing this first of our daily Advent reflections at the end of the first retreat day. Tomorrow we will continue, a wonderful group, people of all ages hungry for more mature and robust faith found in a deeper sense of Jesus Christ present and active in every moment and every encounter.
In one of our reflections today we considered the Advent invitation to wake up. “Stay awake” because you never know what is around the corner.
We often hear that as a strong warning, but perhaps Jesus is instead gently inviting us to be alert to the beauty, depth and vibrancy of life in the same way that I might point out an unusual situation or a beautiful scene to a friend?
This is timely advice for me.
I know that too often I sleepwalk my way through days and weeks, oblivious to the many moments, encounters and opportunities that are worthy of savouring. At these times my senses are numbed and I have become oblivious to the sounds, the sights, and the opportunities to feel, to smell to listen, to taste and to speak in a way that is original and nourishing.
On such disengaged days I might go through the motions of living, but I feel a bit listless and I’m fighting tiredness,
Many wise people remind us that our physical senses are the pathway to the senses of the soul.
The Advent call is to engage with all that that is real: the stuff, the moments and the people of life. In this way we become more aware more awake to what we can see and hear, touch and taste and smell.
With eyes that are focussed I see not just a difficult person or a problematic situation, but an opportunity for me to engage and to learn, even to help.
With ears that are more tuned to diverse frequencies I begin delight in different dialects that previously I heard as an unwelcome and irritating cacophony.
In the silence after today’s first session I sat outside the (Saint) Suzanne Aubert chapel on a seat (pictured) surrounded with Advent-violet Lavender, being overwhelmed by the scent, listening to Tui in the nearby native bush.
Ten minutes later I returned to the group feeling more alive, with renewed vision, more finely tuned hearing, ready to engage with whatever the rest of the day presented.
So this is my Advent desire – to be more sense-able.