(Each week in December I hope to write at least one post reflecting on the lectionary texts from the Sunday before. This week’s readings include Jeremiah 33:14-16 and Luke 21:25-36.)
We flew along back roads surrounded by fields and forests on
a gray day in late fall.
“The trees are naked!” cried a little voice from the back of
“Yes,” I said, “they are.”
Naked is a big and delight-filled word for a four-year-old
To notice and accurately apply that word, I imagine, gave
him nearly as much pleasure as running around naked does.
This week’s advent texts, in both Jeremiah and Luke, carry
images of trees – a righteous branch, a fig tree in spring. Scholars note how the bible itself begins and
ends in a garden with trees. In this week’s readings Jeremiah and later Jesus use trees to tell their own separate but similar
stories of waiting and noticing, of promises and their fulfillment.
Advent – the four weeks leading up to Christmas – marks the
beginning of the church calendar and I can’t help but notice again that we
begin, not with action, but with waiting.
Active waiting accompanied by a good many urgent appeals for us to Pay
Attention! and Stay Awake!
So frequent are the biblical reminders for us to “pay
attention,” you would think the human condition is just one big
post-Thanksgiving-meal fog. It’s as
though the bible recognizes our tendency to hit the snooze button, to slumber
while driving along familiar roads.
It may seem simple, but it takes a certain kind of attention
to notice the state of the world around us, something like the ability of a
four-year-old to see and name the nakedness of the trees.
This week I hope to decorate an evergreen in our yard – a perfectly
plump fir we affectionately refer to as “the Christmas tree.” Last year we could neither afford nor did we
have the energy to hang lights outside, but this year we’ve taken the plunge
and crumpled icicle lights hang already around the front porch roof and the
roof of the well house.
Soon the kids will climb the Christmas tree with lights in
tow and we’ll call out directions from the ground. It will probably involve some yelling and end
in a big tangled mess, but the tree, dressed in its winter greens, will have
lights. I don’t know whether the other
trees in the yard – the naked ones – will look on with envy or relief.
Later this month we’ll cut an overpriced evergreen and drag
it into the house where it will become a hiding place for the kids and jungle-gym
for the cats. We’ll string it too with
lights and tempers will probably flare between my husband and I and the kids
who swarm in excited anticipation as the memory-making debacle unfolds.
It’s tempting to think of all of those trees and lights as
just another distraction. Sometimes they
are. But I look forward to plugging them
in at the end of the day, to watching the kids run off the bus in the early
evening dusk toward a house wrapped round with light.
We may not all have the attentiveness required to notice the
“naked trees,” but surely we can learn to notice light.
May the many lights of Christmas and the trees that bear them remind
us of our tendency to snooze. May they help us Stay Awake as we wait for the coming of the Light.
* * *
Welcome to the #SmallWonder link-up.
What if we chose to deliberately look for the small moments of wonder, the small sparks of presence, of delight or sorrow, of true humanity in which we meet God?
That’s my proposal – that we gather here each week to share one moment of Wonder from each of our days.
You’re invited to link-up a brief post about a small moment of wonder. Don’t worry if your post is too long, too short, or not just right – you’re welcome to come as you are.
While you’re here, please do take a look around and encourage at least one other blogger with a comment.