I love synchronicity. It always feels like it’s a kind of reminder that whatever I’m doing is the right thing.
Tonight I was determined to get back into my new winter routine of shutting off everything, lighting a candle and welcoming the darkness while quietly reading. Before stepping away from the computer, though, I re-read the Advent readings for this week, and checked the word of the day, as well as re-read my post from yesterday. Yesterday’s word was “awake” and today’s is “coming.” (This will be eerily important soon.)
I lit my candle and sat down and began thinking about the word “coming” and all its meanings and relevance to Advent and to my own life.
The list I came up with:
Coming to a conclusion or decision
Come to Jesus (meaning to be forced to understand something)
Coming out (of the closet as well as the darkness)
Coming in from the cold
I then opened my book, My Berlin Kitchen by Luisa Weiss, with the intention of just sitting quietly and reading, and not really thinking much about Advent. But, coincidentally, the chapter I read (chapter 15) was more appropriate than I could ever hope for. In this chapter, she’s struggling with the break-up of her relationship and feeling lost in her life. Most people I know have felt this way once or twice in their lives. Honestly, I think of this kind of struggle as the hard work of becoming a whole person.
In those strange, clear days in late spring in Paris, I remember finally realizing with earthshaking certainty this simple yet essential fact: You, and only you determine your own fate. You get only one chance at this life. Do something with your life; open your heart to risk. At some point, enough is enough and you must think of the biggest leap you can fathom and then take it.
I’ve taken this leap. And I’ve watched many dear friends take their own leaps. And the one thing I can say with absolute certainty: The ‘universe’ will always catch you. Always. It always does.
The difficulty comes learning to trust in ourselves enough to believe in what we’re doing. I’m watching a friend going through the process of walking up to the edge of the precipice and then edging back, still unsure. I know that eventually the pain of remaining will cancel out the fear of leaping, and she will close her eyes and hold her breath and step off the edge… and gracefully fall into the open arms of those who love her and support her, and land solidly on her feet, albeit still a bit shaky from the experience.
The interesting, almost coincidental connection between this chapter and its personal relevance and the Advent words I mentioned above are that we can only know we need to make a change once we’ve woken from our slumber of ignoring the problem. And one we’re awake, there is no going back to sleep. Ever. It is only after we leap into the unknown that we realize that we are coming home.
The title of the chapter I read is “It Shook Me Awake.” And the final paragraph reads, “The next day it was warm enough to wear my new red sandals to work. And at the office my Irish friend, Dervla, told me that pigeons — and doves — are the symbol of homecoming.” Now, if that’s not a timely coincidence, then I don’t know what one is.
But how does this relate to Advent and the readings for this week? Well, to me, I have never been one to believe in the strict teachings of the bible I received as a child. Instead, I’ve read it more as a guide with simplified language for complex concepts. When I think of the “coming” of Jesus, what I translate that to for myself is something akin to the majority of the world living in love and kindness. We are not so much waiting for Jesus to return to us, so much as we are tasked with making this world one where his love is ever present.
It is an enormous challenge to ponder, and one that we cannot hesitate to undertake. Because, once we’ve become awake to injustice and hate, we cannot go back to sleep. We must make the leap, jump into the void, do the scariest things, to set the world to right, with the faith that while we running into danger, we are truly coming home.