Encounter Culture

Advent wreath 2014I am blatantly stealing the term “Encounter Culture” from Pope Frances – but I don’t think he’ll mind too much.  I hope not… Getting a pope mad at you can’t be a good thing.

As I consider the last days before Christmas BEGINS, this is still Advent, I think about the ways in which I miss the whole point of the season, year after swiftly passing year.  I tend to get caught up in the details of shopping, sending out cards, finishing school assignments, getting cookies baked and decorated, remembering to take things out of the freezer to defrost… I get so tired that my soul lays down and begs for a rest.

So I try to make up for my spiritual emptiness by praying in the evening.  Unfortunately, my body thinks this is a good time to turn off my brain.  And so it is.  I am finding that praying is a sort of emptying experience.  I have to stop and and not be efficient for a bit.  My to-do lists get shoved to the side and my self esteem wilts as guilt kicks in, but then, I reevaluate my life.

Here is a little thought that has helped me remember the “reason for the season” and hug my relationship with God a littler tighter:

If I miss God in my life, will I find Him at my death? 

December 15th was the 2nd anniversary of my husband’s death after a four year battle with leukemia.  My daughter and I went to his gravesite last weekend and placed flowers next to his tombstone – which bears my name as well. Charles Dickens was right on the mark when in The Christmas Carol he has ‘ol Scrooge finally relent and change his life when he sees his tombstone bearing his name.  There is something very “relentless” about confronting your name inscribed in stone and place your feet over the dead grass where your body will some day lie.

My heart beats at the command of God.  I don’t want to face a hole where a relationship with the eternal should have breathed life into my soul. So I am committed to a few concrete steps:

  • Daily Morning Prayer
  • And Attitude of Gratitude – no matter how many times I face technical difficulties
  • Periodic FASTs – be it a bad habit or chocolate chip cookies
  • Practice Serenity – knowing that I can’t see the whole picture and God alone saves the world.
  • Evening Prayer – enlist the aide of the saints to help keep me on track. It’ll give them a sporting challenge…

Each Christmas is a reminder of a universal, eternal truth – God lives and He comes to us as both Man and God for our salvation.

I may not be able to tuck and that under the tree, but my life can live the truth of it as I unwrap the gift of each day.