I spent an hour yesterday sloshing through a vast scrap yard looking for a headlight for my van. It was pretty much a scene out of Mad Max – Mad Max after a long Midwestern drizzle. The sun and the mud were in my eyes and I couldn’t see any stars – biblical or otherwise. The day before yesterday I had hit a deer on the road – no way to miss it. It ran off and I hope it is ok, but it knocked out my headlamp and put me in a fresh funk – a simmering mix of guilt, anger, and distress. Not a big rolling boil – not my style – just a simmer. But still I’ve definitely got something cooking. I see that I have been taking little moments like this personally. Seems like there are a lot them lately. So this is the cave in which I begin my journey. I’d love a star, but not sure I can see stars from “here.”
That’s a start actually. Just seeing myself laying here in bed, pinned down at first by self-pity. A kind of straightforward confession without the groveling. Staying here with myself and letting God see me. Fortunately, you don’t have to sit in a particular way to meditate (though sometimes it helps). Staying with it, but somehow no longer “in” it. A star has risen inside me. This for me now is prayer. Not asking God to fix things – that just hasn’t been working for me. But just watching myself lying here things cleared up for a while. Not getting great visions of the Cosmos or the Child. Just some starlight. It illumines the night. Not permanently, but for a while. So now I know there are stars and there are also places from which it is difficult to see them.
So today, the residual starlight is still there. It’s not a pinpoint in the sky. It’s not brilliant. It’s just a sense of a gentle light – a place inside that is not pinned down in a cave. I’m not on the road yet. But today I’m out of the cave and up in the watchtower. It’s better up here. In the starlight.
Image: Watch Tower Urn by David Orth
Since we are speaking of kings, Peter King, the sportswriter, has a featurette in each of his Monday Morning Quarterback columns: Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me. I will paraphrase Mr. King with my Factoids of Advent That May Interest Only Me:
Being an English major and a writer, words fascinate me. I have been away from the church, any church, for a long time now. So when we are talking about Advent, I felt a good place for me to start was refreshing myself with the definition. I went to Merriam Webster Online Dictionary and found this:
Main Entry: Ad•vent
Pronunciation: \ˈad-ˌvent, chiefly British -vənt\
Etymology: Middle English, from Medieval Latin adventus, from Latin, arrival, from advenire
Date: 12th century
1 : the period beginning four Sundays before Christmas and observed by some Christians as a season of prayer and fasting
2 a : the coming of Christ at the Incarnation b : second coming
3 not capitalized : a coming into being or use
Two things which I did not know jumped out at me: Advent also means the Second Coming; and it comes from the Latin, adventus, meaning arrival.
So, never one to leave well enough alone, I broke the Latin, adventus, down into it's etymological least common denominators (if that is even a concept). In Latin, ad carries the idea of "in the direction of". And ventus, in Latin, means wind, rumor, or favor. So reassembling the word from its Latin roots, adventus becomes "in the direction of the wind", or "in the direction of a rumor", or "in the direction of favor". Based on the story in Matthew 2: 1-12, any of these definitions of adventus would work quite well, e.g.: 7Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8He sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him."
And still, I would not let it go...so I looked up the current colloquial definition of "ad": a public notice...and a definition of "vent": to give often vigorous or emotional expression to ...putting those 2 together kind of works too.
And there you have it: My Factoids of Advent That May Interest Only Me
Image: Star by Jim Mangum
it’s not what I’ll take
but what I must leave behind…
oh, look at the moon
I’ll take everything
and just walk slowly
Image: My Blue Moon by C. Robin Janning