Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Wilderness Walking

Our pastor spoke this Sunday about John the Baptist preaching in the wilderness, a place where all the usual rules are thrown into confusion. The mores of the day were set by priests and rulers. Everyone operated under their combined orders. Priests set the rules, according to their perceptions of obedience to God, and people followed them, or they didn’t, with consequences.

And then people heard about a man named John the Baptist who was preaching in the wilderness [Luke 3]. Word spread and more went out to see and hear him. John, it seemed, was out to turn everything upside down, smashing old rules, calling the religious leaders of the day to task, even going to the length of calling them white sepulchres. He told people of the army to be satisfied with their wages, warned the religious leaders about the practices they followed. Called others to share a coat if they had two, and for the tax collectors, to collect no more than what they were due.

The priests weren’t liking that, I’m sure. And neither were some members at the king’s palace. What’s more, John announced that he was a forerunner, that someone else was coming, and that he was only preparing the way. It didn’t bode well for John. Though many were willing to change, there were others who felt more comfortable following the rules they knew. A wilderness indeed.

Waiting this Advent season may seem like wandering in the wilderness, considering history leading up to that day. We wander around (or rush around), getting ready for the next big season and wonder what to do with ourselves. It feels that way in grief too — like a place where people feel unfocused for a period of time before finding their way.

I, too, feel like I’m there, after the death of my mother. It’s hard to focus on some of the tasks I’m used to doing. Goals don’t seem as sharp at the moment, though some have been set in motion. Even when we know something’s going to change, we’re never ready for it, not even after having Mom for this long. Thus we take the time we need to grieve and slowly move ahead, one foot in front of the other. Maybe not always totally focused, but doing something.
Mom at a family wedding in 2012

No one needs to rush through Advent, though the shopping malls might prove otherwise. I’m glad to have a lighter gift buying load this year and am trying to take the season at a slower pace, doing what I can and letting other things go. Being more contemplative. As our minister’s wife said to me on Sunday, we often put more expectations on ourselves than we need to. Preparing the way to Christmas takes time.

Mom won't be rushing anymore. She's probably dancing with Dad in Heaven. I'll try to keep that image of them being together again as I prepare for a season without them.

Carolyn Wilker is an author, editor and storyteller from southwestern Ontario.


Peter Black said...

That's a wonderful tie-in to Advent and Christmas, Carolyn, how you draw the analogy of wilderness and note parallels between John the Baptizer's forerunner ministry to that of Christ, et cetera. I like how you lovingly bring in your grief journey, tempered with faith and hope of reunion with your loved ones. ~~+~~

Carolyn R. Wilker said...

Thank you, Peter. I said to our pastor on Sunday that if I were writing that day, I 'd surely be addressing the part of preparation and how it applied to me where I am just now. I appreciate your kind words.


Peter Black said...

Blessings, with Comfort and Joy.~+~

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