"Faith is different from theology because theology is reasoned, systematic, and orderly, whereas faith is disorderly, intermittent, and full of surprises.... Faith is homesickness. Faith is a lump in the throat. Faith is less a position on than a movement toward, less a sure thing than a hunch. Faith is waiting."

Frederick Buechner

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Advent, Emptying

In this morning's meditation Jan Richardson, at the Illuminated Advent Retreat, asks us to ponder the concept of "emptying." She writes:

".... worship begins not only with the presence of call and response, with the meeting of God and of one another, but with the emptying that makes the meeting possible, the emptying involved in preparing of a space of welcome for the Word to make a home.

What kind of space are you preparing in this season? How do you make ready, make way, make room for the sacred in these days? What distracts you; what drowns out the Word? Is there some piece you need to release or to simplify? In this second week of Advent, what draws your attention to the liturgy of your life?"
Yesterday I wrote a bit about how busy and full my life is these days. It is a challenge to find time to do all that I want and need to do. But I am working at it. I am trying to rise early enough in the morning to take care of that which feeds me. I feel better if I take the time to exercise. I rotate my workout routine: one day I spend 30 minutes in weight training for arms, abs, hips and thighs. I follow this with a 20 minute cardio workout using something from YouTube. The next day I begin with a low impact cardio workout and follow it with 20 minutes of yoga using a podcast from Yogamazing. That's Monday through Friday. Saturday, if I work out, is usually a longer yoga class using a DVD, Yoga for Women by Gaiam. And Sunday, if I work out I walk to the local yoga studio and take the amazingly wonderful "Restorative" yoga class. I use to include dog walks, but those are harder to do now with my old dog. She tends to have hip spasms and collapses - not a pretty sight outside. The other two dogs could use a walk but I don't like to take two and not the other. Besides the two younger play rough and tumble in the house all day and exercise each other - it's hilarious. They do get walks, just less frequent. (Some days I yearn for the old dog park, it was a place of profound contemplative time for me and good exercise for the dogs too - anyway, life changes, we move from one home to another, and we have to adapt....always becoming, as I suggested yesterday).

This week I seem to be able to carve out some time for morning reading and writing. The on-line Advent Retreat helps frame the discipline. Just simply carving out a moment to read, listen to music, reflect, and write, is a kind of emptying for me. One which enables me to go through the day feeling more whole. It's like I have to empty myself each morning in order to filled again.

Paradoxically, it is the emptying that is also the filling.

Mary Oliver once said:

Poetry isn't a profession, it's a way of life. It's an empty basket; you put your life into it and make something out of that.
I could say the same thing about making time to meditate, read, reflect,  pray. It's a way of life, it's an empty basket to put one's life into and thus make something out it. 

Advent.

 Life becoming.

Empty.

Filled.

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