Monday, December 5, 2011

in clover: go begging

“Advent is a time when we beg God for the gift of peace…Even though others might reject God’s gift, we welcome it with joy, hope, and anticipation.  That’s the work, the wisdom, the way of the spiritual life.  We welcome God’s coming into the world with the gift of peace by living in peace here and now with ourselves and everyone.”  John Dear SJ, in a National Catholic Reporter article
What does that mean, anyway?  To beg?  
When I think of begging, I think of something like this:

Beg, verb:  to ask for as a gift, as charity, as a favor.  to ask someone to give or do something.  

But as I read, this caught my eye:

Idiom:  go begging.  to remain open or available.  ex.  Good jobs still go begging in that field.

For Christians, Advent is intended as a time of waiting…of listening…of preparation.  The word advent means “arrival.”  I love Father Dear’s description of Advent.
 “I think of Advent, then, as a Christian season of mindfulness. We take four weeks to return to our center, enter the present moment of peace, live and eat and walk in peace, and wake up to the holy essentials of peace.  Advent offers the chance to start the journey of peace all over again.  It’s a time to practice peacemaking in our day to day, hour by hour life.”

I love his description but I realize that my typical Advent looks nothing like that.
I wonder what it would look like, to genuinely treat Advent as a season of mindfulness?   Some of my Advent activity is self imposed.  I could start there.  Some activities are beyond my control, like things at school and sports activities and even business meetings at church, but I can do my best to make conscious choices about how I spend my Advent time.  For a people pleasing Enneagram type 2 like me, saying no will likely feel intensely uncomfortable.  I can prepare for that discomfort in advance.
How would it feel if I made an effort to limit as many “ordinary” activities as possible during Advent?    I could take care not to schedule routine appointments during Advent...things like dental checkups could be taken care of before or after Advent.    I could speak to leaders of my Christian community and ask them to consider suspending “ordinary” meetings during Advent.  And, when I am in charge of organizing meetings and events, I could mindfully avoid scheduling them during Advent.  There would still be busyness, but it would be a start.  Of course that is only the beginning.  As a friend reminded me recently, sometimes we clear our plates of busyness only to head right back to the table for seconds…heaping  our plates full, all over again. 
This year, I can do my best to leave a few hours unscheduled.   I can leave a little empty space… an invitation to Spirit.  I can do my best to stay open and available.  

During Advent this year, I can intentionally choose to let ordinary ways “go begging.” 

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