Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Later Advent Spirituality of Where's Waldo

Today I drove around a mall parking garage for 20 minutes without finding a spot. In the end I actually gave up.  There were just no spots to be found.

This evening I was looking on Facebook.  Seems like a lot of the updates are about baking cookies, bribing children, wrapping gifts...bribing children, traveling. Busy, busy, busy.

These last days before Christmas -- aren't they crazy? And the attitudes you get (or give) -- honking, yelling, grabbing, gesturing...sometimes all at once.

How do you find God in the midst of all that?

I'm not sure I know, but it reminds me of a story.  My first year as a priest I worked at this parish in Milwaukee, the Gesu.  And every week we would have these 2 or 3 hour staff meetings to talk about all sorts of things.

As the months wore on and my very limited patience with meetings wore down, I found myself asking where is God in all this? And I wasn't asking in a judgmental, this-meeting-stinks way; I really wanted to know where the Spirit was at work, where it was inviting us. I just had no sense.

And this image leapt to mind: we were seated around an office table, facing one another.  And in another part of the room, a little girl who I knew named Sophie played with a toy.  We paid absolutely no attention to her, so intent were we on our conversation.  But that girl, that was the Holy Spirit, playful and imaginative.

From that point on, I used to try and step out of the fray of our meetings from time to time and "look" on a gut level for Sophie.  I know it sounds odd; there never was really a girl playing in the room. But somehow physicalizing the Spirit like that helped me to be more open to its presence.

Another image, which I think I've written about here before: Star Wars, Luke and Ben on the Millenium Falcon, Ben trying to teach Luke how to use the Force. Luke's terrible at it when his eyes are open; but when the blast shield on his helmet -- that is, when his eyes are effectively shut -- he begins to "see" in a whole new way.

These latter days of Advent may be filled with distraction, even with horrible, frustrating, no good distractions.  But the Spirit's still out there amidst it all.  If you have the wherewithal, in the midst of it all stop for a moment, step back from all the busy-ness and see whether somewhere She might stand out.

1 comment:

Pete the Brit said...

Great thoughts! I stumbled across your blog through getting to know you on :)

It seems we think similarly about the spirituality of where's waldo. I've also blogged about it :D