First Tuesday of Advent (Year B)
Advent Meditation by Shingmin Lai
...How long, O LORD? Will you be angry forever?
…Do not remember against us the iniquities of our ancestors; let your compassion come speedily to meet us, for we are brought very low….
It’s not hard to recognize that the year of 2020 has brought the spirits of many of us down to a “very low”. And as we approach the end of this crazy year, it’s still hard to believe how quickly so many things we’ve taken for granted, some as simple as being able to greet a friend with a big hug and unmasked smile or going to the gym to relieve stress, were taken away from us. How many times a day do we find ourselves asking, wishing, hoping…”how much longer until life goes back to normal again?”
During these times, it’s easy to fall into a lull of “putting everything on hold” like dealing with one’s own frustrations until things return to “normal” again. It’s natural to become aggravated by the fact that so many aspects of our daily lives that we took for granted have been taken away from us. It’s also hard not to let this fill your head and affect your mood, and subsequently your interactions with those closest to you. But as the Psalm suggests, this is not the first time, nor will it be the last time, the world has seen the “very lows” and yet, we are still here. Perhaps this is yet another moment where we are supposed to recalibrate and put the “low time” in perspective. Perhaps the cure GOD is hoping we find is not just a vaccine, but for us to rediscover or reunite with what GOD believes is truly important for our survival as a people.
The silver lining in all of this is certainly having the whole world slow down at the same time, so no one feels like they are “falling behind” while others are “getting ahead” or “missing out” while others are “doing more” or “having more fun”. If the whole world takes this time to temporarily pause together and reflect on all the things that really matter in life, and as the communion prayer instructs…”send us out to do the work you have given us to do”, then perhaps, in addition to a vaccine, the cure that was meant to be found for us at this time is to remember the compassion for others and ourselves. Compassion for those we already know, but have been too busy to notice their struggles, for the ones we don’t know, but who anonymously suffer right alongside us, or the compassion for those essential workers who make their own sacrifices to help keep our daily lives moving along as normally as can be expected.
Now that we don’t have the easy excuses of a calendar double-or-triple booked with business trips or dinners, the logistics of maintaining multitudes of after-school activities and many social engagements, etc…we could try to make better use of a “world on pause” to enjoy the time with our families and loved ones, to call and check-in with old friends and extended family, or to fill our minds with reading a great book we’ve been meaning to get to, but have always been too tired or too busy to start, and to remind ourselves to be compassionate and grateful for a life made temporarily simpler in the fast-paced, complicated world we often created for ourselves.