12.20.2009

The Limits of Incarnation - Reflections on Advent While "Stuck" in the Snow

Outside the window, the sky is breathtaking blue and the world is glittering in a blanket of snow 18 - 22 inches deep that stretches as far as the eye can see. The wind is shaking the branches clean and it rustles through all of the nearby pine needles with telltale whispers. This is a quiet and reflective world...perfect for a different kind of worship today, worship that will not happen in traditional ways because the churches are closed.

And so, as I shoveled this morning, I was struck by how such a natural occurrence - a record-breaking snow storm - the right combination of high and low pressure mixed with cold air and moisture - forces many of us into mandatory respite. It closes the door on our "obligations," and forces us to accept limitations that we normally avoid confessing. I recognize that there are some who MUST find a way out of their driveways in this snow because lives literally depend on it. But for most of us, that is NOT the case - not in any stretch of our imagination. The world will go on just fine without us and without whatever we normally contribute to the workings of the world. Most of what we do is NOT mission critical.

That is humbling. The force of creation stirs and down falls inch upon inch of beautiful snow. And our incarnate selves are limited. It's counter-intuitive to my well-equipped and entitled way of thinking. And somehow, here on the fourth Sunday of Advent, it is a very, very important reminder.

Our very bodies are limited. We assume our importance and along with that assume our infallibility. (I know that I have, on more than one occasion, sniffed with contempt at the way the East Coast tends to "shut down" in foul winter weather, but really, that is about me somehow, about being superior.) We impose ourselves on the created world. And it would seem that imposition is the source of much groaning. We grab at natural resources because we can. We drive fast or far or often or at all because we can. We buy much because we can. We consume resources like things and time and one another...because we can.

But the truth of the matter is that we are not, most of us, "mission critical" beyond others' need for our love, care and relationship to them. And today, I recognize that this was one gift of God's incarnation in Jesus Christ - a living, breathing example of relationship to others with limitations of human frailty.

Here we are, a little bit trapped and a lot humbled by the weather, aware that there are forces greater than us. And the priorities seem to fall into place...good conversation, literature, warm bread made by someone you love, cocoa and whipped cream, warmth, safety, humility, prayer.

Be still and know that I am God
Be still and know that I am
Be still and know that I
Be still and know that
Be still and know
Be still and
Be still
Be

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