I was 4 or 5 years old when my mom took me to a department store. I recall standing next to her looking at some display, then wandering a few feet away to look at something else.
Shoppers moved into the space between me and mom and blocked my view of her. When I looked back, she was hidden from my sight. All these years later, I remember my panic.
Was she gone? Would I ever see her again?
My memory of that frightening moment is fuzzy, but I remember calling out to her. And right away, she stepped away from the other shoppers so I could see she was there.
I ran to her. She swept me up, held me and told me she was right here – she’d never leave me. She was watching me out of the corner of her eye the whole time.
We’ve all had moments of feeling lost or left behind by a parent, a group, a companion. Those terrifying moments can stick with us a lifetime.
We’ve all called out: Where are you?
Advent is a time of asking that question of God.
Where are you God in my life? In this mess? In this pandemic? In this divisiveness? I don’t recognize you. I’m not sure what you look like. I’m not sure you’re really here. Honestly, at this moment, I’m not sure you actually exist.
“Watching you the whole time”
Advent invites us to be honest and real in whatever we feel, and then watch and listen for answers.
We all go through times when we doubt the Creator’s presence and existence. We ask how God could allow things to happen and whether God really cares.
Who are you? Where are you? Are you even here?
It’s important to share our feelings and ask our questions, whatever they may be. When I became separated from mom in the department store, she didn’t know I was afraid until I called out to her. She responded immediately.
As I’ve grown, I’ve found that my feelings of separation and alienation most often come from my own distractions or my preconceived ideas of how things ought to be. I get so focused on one thing that I lose sight of everything important.
Something as small as a few shoppers can obscure my view of the ever-present Parent.
During my daily walks, I’ll get so focused on watching my individual steps – don’t want to trip! – that I don’t even look up at the gorgeous sky during the day or at the amazing stars at night.
They’re right there, but I don’t notice them.
“Invites us to be honest and real”
Or I obsess over some act of narcissism or injustice to the point that I lose my internal peace and no longer notice the countless acts of kindness and joy around me that more than outweigh the others.
I can so easily forget that love is our uninterrupted connection to one another and to the One who creates and sustains everything with an ever-present love.
So feel free to accept Advent’s invitation to stop, ask, and listen. To seek, knowing that what we want is right in front of us – obscured perhaps by our distractedness and panic, but present nonetheless.
And when we call out, to listen for that voice reminding us again: I’m right here. Watching over you the whole time.
(photo by Jasmic at CreativeCommons.org https://www.flickr.com/photos/58826468@N00/422104937)