Gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.
~ GK Chesterton

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Fourth Sunday of Advent

Is it only me, or do others enjoy a late-in-the-week Christmas, giving us a long fourth week of Advent?

For this last Sunday, once again, I share Brother Lawrence:
“To advance in the practice of the presence of God we should let go of all our cares, including a multitude of private devotions, good in themselves but often carried out for the wrong reasons, for those devotions are nothing more than the means to arrive at the end.” 
It cannot be helped. I cannot escape this quote! In just a few sentences, it sums up what I’ve needed for focus this Advent: Do not get stuck in a mindset that certain things, even very good things, need to happen in order to have a “good” Advent.

Ironically, it has been letting go of expectations of how things “should go,” that I’ve ended up being able to enjoy quiet time to myself, as well as take pleasure in the more exterior seasonal activities. That isn’t such a surprise.

What was a surprise was discovering attachments I didn’t know existed. I cannot share the specifics of the discovery, because it would mean telling others’ stories at the same time, which I won’t do. No matter, the generalities are sufficient in making my point.

I had been counting on a particularly meaningful devotion to help me find the strength to meet a specific challenge. Alas, external circumstances kept me from that devotion when I thought I was most in need of it. I spent a number of minutes in the car (by myself), railing at fate about it. Suddenly, I remembered Brother Lawrence’s warning about letting go of devotions, good in themselves, but perhaps blinding us to the end goal. Hmmmmm….

Almost immediately, a scriptural quote popped into my head, the one about God’s grace being sufficient. In that moment, I knew. I was putting more faith in the devotion than in the God I thought I was meeting in that devotion. If circumstances beyond my control kept me from the devotion, there was no need to fear God was absent without it.

After that epiphany, I felt better about facing my challenge. As it happens, the challenge was met better than I thought it could be done. Such a gift!

Happy Fourth Sunday, friends!

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