You start out with one thing, end
up with another, and nothing’s
like it used to be, not even the future

                  ~Rita Dove

Dove’ s words from her poem Ö speak to the experience of life. The human tendency to resist change is interesting in light of the fact that life is always changing. Our bodies are always changing, aging. We most easily see this in children during the first couple of years of life. A helpless, dependent infant begins to roll over, sit up, crawl, walk, and start to speak in a matter of months. The landscape, plants, and wildlife are always changing. The rains come, bring plants to life, they grow and move along their life cycle. Everything changes.

I get it, though. I understand the tendency to hold on. If change comes, we do not know what it will bring. It can make us feel we are losing our footing, losing our bearing. Perhaps some of us feel like that now. We have talked in worship for two weeks about our need to hear. To listen for the word of God. To hear the cries in our world and within us. Maybe we have heard, and it is overwhelming. We realize changes in the culture, the power of politics, and the far-reaching challenges of the pandemic. It is hard to take it all in without feeling bombarded. It is difficult to make sense of it all and know exactly where to go from here.

Thus, we incorporate ritual in our lives. From the daily practices of morning and evening routines to the rhythm of our faith celebrations. The season of Advent is part of this rhythm, and I believe we are in need of it. It calls us to pay attention. Not only to the cries of the earth and her inhabitants, not only to the wailing inside our hearts, but also to God. Sometimes it takes listening beyond what first reaches our ears. Sometimes it takes hearing much deeper. Yes, we hear the noise. Yes, we hear the cries of pain. Yes, we know the sorrow. And…and we listen for the heart beyond it all that holds all within it. That holds us within it.

This is the preparation of Advent. Though the world changes—our lives change—we seek to know this heart. We seek to find our bearing in it. In your mercy, Lord, hear our prayer.