I am receiving daily Advent reflections from the Sisterhood of St. John the Divine (SSJD) which is an Anglican holy order. I find this to be very thoughtful and helpful in travelling my Advent journey. The reflections each have the title “Awaken”. I believe that this is a very good way to make that Advent journey – to be awakened.
So, what does it mean to be awakened or awake i.e., to wake up? Being ‘woke’ has come into popular parlance recently, usually as a pejorative by people on the right who use it to criticize those – usually classified on the left – as allowing their ideology to rule their lives and have overriding concerns about sexism and racism and other rights for minority groups. One source I found on-line, Wikipedia, defines woke as, “an English adjective meaning ‘alert to racial prejudice and discrimination’ that originated in African-American Vernacular English.”
So here we have the essence of being awake. We are aware of what is going on in the culture and by inference in ourselves. What then does it mean to be awakened in Advent. What are we to wake up to? First of all, let’s explore if we need to be woken up. After all, don’t we wake up every morning and greet the world? I must admit that some mornings I am more awake that others but I am still awake. However, if you stop and consider what happens to us when we are awake i.e., not asleep, does it mean that we are always - or even often – aware of the world around us – the world we are in the middle of – and how we respond or not to it?
I think that we all have had experiences where we realize that we are not aware of some things in our lives. We might have had the experience of going into another room and then forgetting what we intended to get. Or we may all of a sudden become aware of certain things that we had not been aware of before. Some of you might know that I ended up buying a new car this summer when we were at our cottage in Prince Edward Island. I had not intended to buy a new car but circumstances dictated it. The only car - almost literally – available on the Island that would suit us was an SUV with more bells and whistles than I could ask or imagine. I had never thought I would be driving an SUV. Since then, I have been very conscious (awake) of how many SUV’s there are on the road. That did not enter my consciousness until I was driving one. We screen out a lot of what goes on around us as it would require more energy that we can manage to be awake to everything around us most of the time. It takes a lot of psychic energy to be conscious of ourselves and the world we live in.
So, given that we are not awake to life and ourselves in that world – at least in part, what does it mean to be awake to our Advent journey? I think another way of asking that is WWJD or What Would Jesus Do? We are preparing for the birth of the Christ Child who will be born again on Christmas Day. Jesus showed us what God’s Kingdom will be like when it is established on earth. Here is today’s Awaken from SSJD which speaks to this:
Amidst our turbulent life, any concept of a peaceful kingdom may seem like a pipe dream and acting on the fruits of the Spirit – especially peace, joy, and generosity, may seem like a ‘big ask’ at times. In Sacred Spaces: Stations on a Celtic Way (2001), Margaret Silf describes sacred spaces as “crossing places and thresholds [of growth] … [that] offer … openings into new stages of becoming who we really are” (p.136).
Certainly, Advent is one of these sacred threshold spaces. Advent is also at the intersection of the chronological time of our daily lives and Kairos, the appointed time of God’s action – in this case, the coming of Jesus. How we greet this intermingled time and let it mold us further into who we really are is the ultimate challenge of Advent. May God bless you richly as you rise to meet this challenge.
May you have a blessed Advent journey.