A Holy Experience – and hearing Advent anew

I love Ann Voskamp’s site, “A Holy Experience.” If you ever have one blog to visit in the early mornings or late nights, and ever want to pause and think about things like gratitude, faith, children and everyday sacredness, farming and food, beauty and noticing the small things, vulnerability and trust, love and questions, the power of words and of listening – then you may love her site as much as I do.

Today, I came across this Advent story she told to her daughters, a story told into and through their simple and amazing little lives. This story about what Christmas is really about, and the wisdom of a child, is about the best version I’ve ever heard – it’s retelling the sometimes too-familiar to feel awe-inspiring, yet powerfully eternal and poignant, story of Immanuel God with us.

Read it sometime if you like, and remember the power of God’s gift with a smile, some sniffs and tears, while a little person tugs at your pant leg – everyday ordinary meets wondrously sacred all the time on her blog.

Advent Quote

Was there a moment, known only to God, when all the stars held their breath,
when the galaxies paused in their dance for a fraction of a second,
and the Word, who had called it all into being,
went with all his love into the womb of a young girl,
and the universe started to breathe again,
and the ancient harmonies resumed their song,
and the angels clapped their hands for joy?

– Madeline L’Engle

Abundance and Abide

I was preparing for a short meditation for a friend’s baby shower last week, and two words kept coming to me as I thought about Momma B and her sweet Baby I; abundance and abide. I think these two concepts have been creeping into my mind lately and out through my life in various ways – they seemed to also fit perfectly this occasion of celebrating and sanctifying motherhood.

I ended up starting off by sharing how scarcity is the reality that most of us are exposed to daily. Whether its looking for sales, borrowing baby clothes or feeling the budget strain of a new child, “not having” and skimping seem to be normal, while abundance and overflow seem to be abnormal. While penny-pinching can be a needed – even good – exercise, I think that not having enough financially, or not having enough time, or patience with a toddler, or enough job opportunities, or support, or schools that accept us – whatever it is, not “having ENOUGH” can lead us into believing the lie that WE are “not enough.” And that is just a lie – we are already enough, right now, not after the to do list is done, or the money is saved, or the weight is lost or the goal is attained. Today, we are each enough – and that is because of who God is, and through God’s abundance – not because of who I am. But I am enough today, Momma B holding Baby I, was enough that day, simply because we know God and can turn to the source of an overflowing, always abundant, economy of grace and fullness. I am NOT enough, it turns out, all on my own. I am not ever able to pull off looking like, or pretending to be, or even racing full speed, toward being enough for everyone; I must turn toward the God of abundance to escape fear and scarcity. And this God has enough, has plenty, has an enormous amount of whatever I need – and this is what finally quiets the chatter and worry of scarcity within.

If we really understand this idea of abundance – that I am enough through God’s overwhelming graciousness – then I think this is what leads us to abide. “Abide” is a fun, old-fashioned-sounding word that pulls me into its root meaning – which is to rest, to remain, to be in and within. “Abide/remain in me and you will produce much fruit,” we are told. Apart from God we can do nothing – so, abide. Rest. Remain.

I recently did a workshop that revolved around some of these themes and we talked about how God’s job is to be the vine, to produce the fruit, to the work that is necessary to make all things new and restored. Our job is to stay on the vine, to stay connect – abide – and to let God use us. We rest, we obey, we are willing – but God does the producing. My friend co-leading our workshop pointed out, “You never see a grape on the end of the branch gritting its teeth, clenching its hands, saying “gggrrrrr – GROW, grow, be a grape, be a GRAPE, BE A GRAPE!!!”” Grapes just live at the end of the vine, and they grow. We have a role to play – to learn what God is calling us to be, to learn how to stay connected to the vine, to live into God’s abundance. But, it is God who grow, produces, and bears fruit. We then abide. We rest. We stay connected. How differently would I see my spiritual life, my long list of tasks, my goals as a mother/woman/worker – wherever I find myself, what would that look like if I truly was abiding? Resting? Waiting on God? Letting God do the heavy lifting, so to speak.

The relief and rest that comes from knowing it is God who is enough – not me, but God who brings abundance, means that I do not have to do it all, or save it all. Because God is already enough in His abundance, I can rest. I can abide. I can remind myself that it is not up to me to be a perfect parent, or perfect ____ – it is up to me to learn how to remain on the branch and let God produce the fruit. I pray that this good news of God’s abundance right her and now in the mess of today, and our call to abide and rely on God’s provision, sounded like good news that night for my friend holding her one month old. I hope it is also good news that I can live out today and that moms/parents can help me remember to share with each other over and over again.