I did morning prayers this morning on iBrievary, something I had eagerly taken up a couple of weeks ago, and then promptly lost ferver with. It's been a few days, and I was out of the habit. But as I scrolled through my facebook newsfeed and checked my favorite blogs for updates, the time for school fast approaching, I remembered - I should pray. And so I did.
This morning this beautiful psalm was part of the morning prayers. It is a psalm dear to my heart because of a Praise and Worship song we used to sing based on its words. I can remember the fire of a young heart newly converted to the Lord, for the first time in her life really understanding what it means to choose to love God for herself (and not out of duty or habit), shouting out those words and meaning every single one of them:
My soul is longing and yearning
Is yearning for the courts of the Lord
My heart and my soul ring out their joy
To God, the living God
These many years later, I read these same words, but with an attitude of repetition. I often lament the loss of my youthful ferver, but I think in many ways it's not a bad thing that I've grown beyond it. Those are some of the best memories of my entire life, and have laid a firm foundation that I continue to depend on every day. But I was not meant to stay there, I grew up. Faith became something that didn't come easy, that wasn't all flash and excitement, that took work. It is the zeal that springs us forth, but it is the steadfastness that causes us to endure.
And yet, I couldn't help but feel a pang in my heart as I read those words. It has been a long time since I longed and yearned for the Lord.
Advent is a season for searching. I often talk to the kids about what that first Advent must have been like. The people had waited many thousands of years for this Messiah, this promised one - and now all the signs they had been taught of were coming to pass. They knew this was it, He is coming! They must have been overflowing with anticipation.
But - here's the thing - it's not over. He hasn't already been here and gone, and we don't just commemorate something that must have been really cool, but is so far removed from us. Because we are all making our own journey to Christ, to Heaven. In a very real way, Advent is the story of us. And yet, for me, it seems I have forgotten. I take each day as though I already know Christ, that He has already been revealed to me. I do the things I need to do, but lacking that joyful anticipation. Or maybe it's not even joyful, because sometimes a search is desperate too. One thing it's not though, is complacent.
This is where the wisdom of the Church's liturgical seasons is so profound for me. Because while we spend most of our time in Ordinary Time, we really are an Advent people. If however, we never changed seasons, it would be too easy to forget that, to stop searching, to become mundane. And so, in Her wisdom, the Church sets aside four weeks ahead of one of the most important feasts of the year for us to really enter into the search, to remember that we are not just coasting along aimless. We too have a journey to make. This is not just a history lesson, it is the drama of our whole lives.
Like the Magi who studied for years and readied themselves to know the signs of the Lord's coming, and the Shepherds attentive to the messages from the angels that the Lord is near, may we be both studious and attentive to the ways the Lord makes Himself known to us each day, so that when He does enter into our lives we find ourselves ready. We can only long and yearn if we have been active in the search. May we make ourselves ready.
We see so little, stayed on surfaces,
We calculate the outsides of all things,
Preoccupied with our own purposes
We miss the shimmer of the angels’ wings,
They coruscate around us in their joy
A swirl of wheels and eyes and wings unfurled,
They guard the good we purpose to destroy,
A hidden blaze of glory in God’s world.
But on this day a young girl stopped to see
With open eyes and heart. She heard the voice;
The promise of His glory yet to be,
As time stood still for her to make a choice;
Gabriel knelt and not a feather stirred,
The Word himself was waiting on her word.
(Malcolm Guité, The Annunciation)