Sunday, December 6, 2009

Advent: Second Sunday -- 2009 -- By the Fire

Where I live at the moment provides what I consider a luxury -- a real fireplace. Recently I purchased what turned out to be a trunk-load of firewood. As I piled the logs near the fireplace, I could only think of evenings before the fire. It was for me a moment of joy because I knew this pile of logs would be keys that would open up a part of the inner me.

Living alone, I have other luxuries: quiet, on interference and time to watch the myriad flame patterns leaping from their imprisonment within the logs. The striking of one match would set these millions of flame-patterns free. As the flames grow stronger each evening, I can almost play with the sound of the crackling from the supposedly dead wood. In my mind I let that noise be the squeaking sound of the sixty-eight year old doors to my inner self being pushed back as I enter into the presence of my soul. And I realize once again that it is I who has to take the time and effort to open the doors and take a seat to share thoughts with my soul ... and, of course, with the Triune God.

St. Paul's words from today's liturgy, Philippians 1:9-11, brought to mind the evenings by the fire. The picture above was last evening's fire. As I watched, I found myself about my relationship with God during this Advent season. How was God speaking to me? It seems so much easier to hear God sitting in the quiet and crackling of burning wood.

And this is my prayer: that your love may increase ... in knowledge
and every kind of perception, to discern what is of value ....
(St Paul)

During these Advent days, so often so filled with distractions, activities and obligations to families, friends and the need among us, we are at the beginning of a new Church year and on the threshold of another calendar year. Yet where do most people find their "fireplace moments"? Clearly it is challenging to so many to find and treasure these reflective moments. Today's gospel also calls us in the words of St. John who baptized Jesus to private soul moments: "Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths."