Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Prepare (busy)

I'm blogging for Advent, following along with the themes that we're focusing on at Crossroads. I talk more about why I'm doing this in an earlier post. This week's theme is "prepare." 

The other day I got to talk to Rev. Karen Thomas Smith, who's the chaplain at the university in Morocco where I studied abroad. I shared with her something that I don't think I've posted about. Recently, I've been making a really conscious effort not to respond with "Busy" when someone asks how I'm doing. I came to the realization that this was my go-to answer. And the thing is that (a) I'm actually not that busy, compared to other people and other times in my life, and (b) I think I was giving that answer because I'm a student and I live in DC and that's what you're supposed to say in order to seem relevant and interesting.

It's not that we aren't busy. It's that we all are pretty busy, and I think sometimes we feel like we all have to prove to each other how busy we are because it somehow justifies us.

And of course, one of the key insights of this Paul guy that we read a lot of in churches is that we can't really do anything to justify ourselves. Not even be really really busy.

Karen shared with me that when she was getting her doctorate, the dean told her she was taking too many classes. "We want our students to have time to pray and play," he said.

How awesome would it be if that were a seminary requirement? Take less classes. Take time to pray and play.

What's this got to do with Advent? Rev. Dottie Yunger, the pastor at Crossroads, was talking Sunday about the text from Isaiah that's quoted in the gospels in reference to John the Baptist: "In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low." And Dottie shared that, as an environmentalist, her immediate association with that verse is mountaintop removal.

So, not exactly a positive association.

She went on to say that what the passage is speaking about is making a way for God. Not making a way for industrial capitalism or profits for the Koch brothers. Not making highways for earthly kings. And so the way that we prepare a way for God is going to look different than this.

And I guess I just think that if we're always busy and always saying how busy we are, we'll probably be too busy to do any of that preparing. We'll be too busy preparing resumes and to-do lists to do the preparation work required.

The prayer.

The sharing.

The hearing.

The breathing.

I'm addicted to this busy thing as much of any of us. During finals especially, this is all kind of tough to talk about. But I think it's at least a start, to stop saying "busy" and "tired" so automatically, and to occasionally say:

"Today, I am grateful."

"Today, I am sad."

"Praise God from whom all blessings flow."


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