Sunday begins the liturgical season of Advent. Advent is a time of preparation for the birth of Jesus. For the next few weeks, I’ll be dwelling upon different people mentioned in the story leading up to Christ’s birth. My offering will be a piece of artwork and a poem centered on how I imagine the Spirit moved in each person’s life and link it with how the Spirit is still alive in our story today urging us to move towards it.
Today, I enter into the story of Zechariah. Zechariah is a Jewish priest. An upright man. One who follows the rules and rituals of his day. His wife, Elizabeth, and he, are getting up in years and they have never had a child. So… there he is, the one chosen to go into the holiest place in the temple to burn incense. He’s simply doing his job. It is here, he encounters an angel. A Spirit of the Lord. One who tells him his wife will have a child. Zechariah is gripped with fear. Uncomfortable. It seems natural he would question, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.” At his questioning, his lips are sealed shut by the angel. He can no longer speak until his son, John, is born.
I can’t help but wonder what we are able to hear when the words fall away. What internal reflection it makes us do. The vulnerability of our entire selves to God. Our exposure. Uneasy? Yes. For this week, this is where I dwell: the Spirit of discomfort.
There I am, shrouded in blankets
basking in warm sun and green grass,
filled with knowing,
confident in the way it has always been done,
rules and rituals my cover of choice,
comfortable to the point of hope ebbing,
not because I have no hope —
rather because I don’t dwell upon it.
I don’t linger with the mystery, I’m
safe from the otherworldly.
All at once,
I’m thrust into the spectacular unknown,
sweeping in as an angel
a brilliant breeze,
vision of gold and splendor,
a divine voice to challenge
my firm notions, comes
as discomfort to waken me
out of rote ritual,
out of my experience,
whisks me from noise,
sealing my lips shut
with a golden kiss. I’m
taken away from the distraction
of words, the importance
of facts and information,
pulled toward nothingness.
It is here, I, the uncomfortable one,
off step, exposed,
wrestle and argue,
fight and cry,
question and reveal.
Over time, I
begin to sink into myself, Spirit
settles the ocean of my being.
In the stillness,
I find a gift of abalone,
a tiny spark, reignited
with the only truth I need —
that God is real
and I am hungry.
Hope is reborn.
May you be blessed during your Advent Season with a time for your own internal reflection and coming of the Christ child.
To read the story of Zechariah, you can find it beginning at Luke 1:5