Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Spirituality of Advent, Day 1, Week 4

Today is the fourth Sunday of Advent in the Christian churches.  We light the last candle.  All of the light that the world needs to see the way.  All of the light that the world needs to experience hope, preparation, joy, and love.  All of the light to bring joy to a season in which we have just passed the day with the least natural light during the year.

Today is also a very warm day.  Numerous apps suggested that the temperature was either 70 or 71 degrees Fahrenheit when I awakened this morning.  That is crazy.  That has little to do with the spirituality theme, but is just an interesting fact.    

Last night, I put the goal of 6-7 miles out there.  In the end, I slept a little longer (to try to be at full attention during the day today), I did a little work (my boss had made a request that I wanted to answer), and I had issues with my contact lens.  By the time all that was said and done, I had only 20 minutes to spare before needing to shower and get ready to take my 14 year old to a skating lesson.  So, I just went out and enjoyed 2.2 miles.  Enough to get my legs moving and to work out some of the stiffness form yesterday's run.

Why stiff yesterday?  I found myself working to keep up with my fellow trainer for the first time in a while yesterday.  And, the second half of the run was mostly up.  My training partner, as seems to almost always be the case, despite comments about the hills, just goes up them just the same.  I have long since overcome the feeling of being completely unable to keep up (as I did in the first summer we were in the same training group and I watched as she and a few others just took the hills at Loch Raven reservoir), but the effort yesterday was noticeable.  Probably because of the things I mentioned yesterday including a couple of weeks since I ran over 6 miles and because I had a crazy week.

So that does all this say about the fourth theme of the Advent wreath--love?  

A number of things.  Let's begin with the love of running.  Some might say that only keeping time for 2.2 miles suggests that I don't care so much about it.  Others might say that making sure that I got in the 2.2 rather than just blowing off today suggests a true love for the sport.  It is all a matter of persepctive.  And my perspective is always to look for the positive.  My positive for today and running was--it's better than doing nothing and I wouldn't have missed what is likely to be the last opportunity to run at a temperature like this for a while.

What else do I think about for love and advent?  Many of the songs at this time of year are clearly songs of joy.  Bright.  Happy.  Big sound.  It is easy and obvious to feel love when there is joy and happiness in the air and in the sounds of the music.  

But there are other songs that are songs of sorrow or at least songs that have a sad sound to them.  The mandolin and banjo are instruments that have a generally bright sound but that can be used to play minor chords in songs that are slow and that bring lots of emotion.  I think that the combination of things that are sorrowful but bring happiness is a manifestation of love.  I first thought of this when trying to pick out songs from Emmet Otter and thinking about minor chords on a bright instrument.  And thinking about traditional songs that give me happiness despite their sorrowful sound.   

If I think of love as caring.  If I think of love as "investing" myself in something.  If I think of love as "putting some skin in the game."  If I think of love as being willing to make changes and adaptations and adjustments for someone or something.  Then those are all things that can sometimes bring sorrow but after which I am ultimately happy or feel serene.  And that is a manifestation of love.

In Christian tradition, God sending a Son to later die for forgiveness of the sins of humans--love.

Making sure that I do not put myself first--that is love.

Do I ever put myself first?  Yes.

Do I do things that sometimes fail to put those closest to me first?  Unfortunately, yes.

But do I try to invest in being a part of something bigger and making that a guiding theme in my life?  Well, yes.  

And as I approach the end of this writing season, I am finding that the biggest thing that I have gotten out of this series of blog entries is a sense of recognizing the "bigger" in ways that are more explicit and more clear than I have ever done before.  Ways that connect me to the bigger.  Ways that make me think about the bigger.

I've had to state what the meaning of the Advent wreat is.  Not just in a blog but in front of people at my kids' school.

I have led children in song.

I have run a race I never ran before.

I have returned to music--but making careful notes not to get too involved right now as there are so many other things to do.

I have recognized the many communities I am a part of.

And I return, as always, to the one thing that is bigger than me but closest to me--the importance of family.  

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