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.
I feel at peace working in my garden.
May Suzanne bless you all retreating
And sharpen in us all the awareness for persons and plants with which she lived ..
Enjoying resuming these wonderful reflections, such a timely reminder to enjoy the wonder of Gods creation…. Waking to the bird calls in the morning … I can smell the lavender…. I look forward to the day before me. Thank you.
This morning as I walked in for 7.30 Mass a Tui was singing in a tree above the church. After reading your Reflection I thank God I had stopped for a moment to listen.
I am in Christchurch staying in the country and am loving living slightly more slowly and hugely more engaged with nature. it is a blessing to be forced to live a little more slowly so that I do notice the little things and have time to thank God for his goodness.
I just love the comment.
‘To be alert to the vibrancy, depth and beauty’ speaks to me and gives me the hope that is in the love Jesus has for all.
May our environmental and spiritual blessings strengthen and refresh us for mission to the less fortunate.
Thank you Father John for beautiful reflection God bless on your retreat
Thank you , Fr John, for sharing your thoughts about the Advent Reflection in Island Bay, with us. I had hoped to be able to attend this event , but family needs removed my availability. I am delighted to see that you have shared your thoughts and reflection on “Sense-able”.
Home of Compassion is a lovely spot to engage the senses. Thank you for this reflection.
I love this. Thank you.
Thanks Father. I lost my sense of smell a few weeks ago due to covid and it is slowly returning. I find I am loving being aware of the summer smells. God is good
Your words strike a chord -“ my senses are numbed …” I find consolation in learning that I am not alone in this experience- and seek to be more engaged in the present moment, to be sense-able… thank you for sharing and your insights.
Your lovely description of tui and lavender certainly perked up my senses on a grey wet Auckland day; and brought back memories of Island Bay and the salty smell of Cook Strait. Senses en-abled through your written word, thank you.
Thank you Father, what a beautiful, scent-filled reflection, helping me to sense God’s desire for me to be more sense-able in the moments he allows us to experience.
I needed this right now, and will take the message of your reflection with me through this wonderful Season of Advent.
Bless you Father.