Did you ever pick up a little dog and hold it in your arms? Sometimes when you pick up a dog their paws flail in the air, until you put them down and they find firm ground.
Sometimes life is like that. Our “paws” flail in the air. We worry, obsess and seem to lack any grounding in life. My life of late has been this way as another major concern emerges. I am like a dog trying to find firm ground.
What I need to remember is this. When I feel like I’m in mid air I am being held by the One who will never let go of me. I am being held by the One who is able to take a seemingly negative, dark circumstance and bring me to a new place that I never imagined. I am in good hands and even in mid air I can find firm ground.
I am so grateful that in the midst of difficulty I have a place to go in meditation, a quiet place which whispers a word of hope: In your darkness I will never abandon you. No matter your difficulty I can use it to bring you to a new place. Trust the hands that hold you.
So, . . . how’s it goin? You getting naked yet? Beginning to take off that cloak which separates you from God and others? Have you identified what it is? You could have several cloaks actually. Don’t get too ambitious. Just try taking off one. If you’re like me, I know the cloak that I need to remove. It’s glaringly obvious to me. But I begin to reach for the snap that will remove it; and suddenly I get frightened. What is life going to like without this cloak? I’ve worn it for such a long time! What will I say, how will I act without this cloak? What’s it going to be like to be naked? O my God, I can’t even believe that I’m thinking about removing this from my life and getting naked!
I remember when I was trying to quit smoking some years ago, I could NOT imagine what my life would be without cigarettes. How could I possibly enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning WITHOUT a cigarette? How could I possibly talk on the phone without a cigarette? How could I work, have a relaxing evening, clean, work on a project at home (the list goes on), WITHOUT having a cigarette??? It truly seemed unimaginable to me at the time. Now, I look back and say to myself, “what was I thinking??” The truth is, it’s glorious to have coffee in the morning WITHOUT a cigarette. It’s great working, relaxing, walking, talking with friends, WITHOUT a cigarette. It’s so freeing and I feel so much better.
Why then is it so difficult for me to envision my life without the cloak that I wear now? If we have been freed before, why is it difficult to imagine our life without lethargy and exercising? Why is it so difficult to imagine our life eating the right foods that will give us energy? Why is it so hard to imagine our life without so much internet, TV, without a negative attitude, more attentive to the needs of others?
Perhaps that’s the key. Imagination. Thinking. Envisioning. Can I begin to think in a new and exciting way about what life would be like without this cloak; instead of concentrating so negatively on what it would be like? Because the truth is this: Our lives will be IMMEASURABLY better WITHOUT this negative pattern of behavior! Perhaps that’s where we need to keep the focus of our thoughts.
God help me to imagine myself without this cloak that weighs me down! Help me to envision myself naked, happy and free!
“Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God! Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill will be made low. The rugged land shall be made a plain, the rough country, a broad valley.” (See Isaiah 40: 1-11)
We’re so used to good roads in the United States that the concept of making a straight highway and leveling mountains is lost on us. When I lived in Central America for a summer I came to appreciate the roads and highway system we have here unlike I ever have before.
This concept of making a highway for God comes up again and again during Advent. If you’ve had the opportunity to observe a highway being built through hills and mountains, suddenly the awesome task of making a straight road comes into perspective!
This makes me think about the obstacles and “rough places” that are still within me, or the obstacles that I either place in another’s way, or don’t help remove. Think of your partner at home, or another family member or friend. Think of the poor, the less fortunate. How could I be of help in removing some of the obstacles that people have in their lives and making life even a little bit easier for them? And, conversely, what rough places and obstacles are still within me that hinder me from living life just a little more fully?