Sunday, December 8, 2013

A Pause in Advent #2: Housekeeping

 I have joined Floss and others in a Pause in Advent. Check out Floss's site for a list of other bloggers participating in this annual event.

Here's something I wrote on this blog a couple of years ago:

Yesterday I was told a story about a young pastor visited at home by an older pastor. The older man told the younger man that every table in his house should be an altar. By this, he didn't mean the young pastor should have a chalice and a silver platter of communion wafers on his bedside table and TV trays. Instead, he was preaching a kind of mindfulness. Pay attention, he was saying. Keep God in mind whatever you do.

When I think about cleaning my house for Christmas as a way of making it picture perfect for a picture-perfect Christmas, I feel cranky and tired. Count me out. I would rather celebrate Christmas among the dust bunnies, thank you very much.

But when I think of Advent as a time of making altars throughout the house, then I feel much more cheerful.

The reason we observe Advent is that we have to prepare our hearts for Christmas. We have to make them big. And by building our little altars, we are reminding ourselves that God is on His way. We say, We are ready to be hopeful. We are ready for peace. We are ready to truly love one another.

We are ready, we say, to greet God when He appears in our doorway. 

With that, I bring you this week's poem, by Mary Oliver.

Making the House Ready for the Lord

Dear Lord, I have swept and I have washed but
still nothing is as shining as it should be
for you. Under the sink, for example, is an
uproar of mice –it is the season of their
many children. What shall I do? And under the eaves
and through the walls the squirrels
have gnawed their ragged entrances –but it is the season
when they need shelter, so what shall I do? And
the raccoon limps into the kitchen and opens the cupboard
while the dog snores, the cat hugs the pillow;
what shall I do? Beautiful is the new snow falling
in the yard and the fox who is staring boldly
up the path, to the door. And I still believe you will
come, Lord: you will, when I speak to the fox,
the sparrow, the lost dog, the shivering sea-goose, know
that really I am speaking to you whenever I say,
as I do all morning and afternoon: Come in, Come in.

From Thirst, Beacon Press, 2007


GretchenJoanna said...

That is just the prayer/poem for my life right now. Dear Frances, thank you! And also thanks are due for the repost of the thoughts on table altars, which I have thought of many times since your first posting, but without the original words from you the whole idea had become too fuzzy. Now that part of my mind has been cleared out and I will be able to clear off some altars. O Come, O Come, Emmanuel!

Pom Pom said...

Oh, that is a GOOD poem by M.O. A beautiful way to think of our tidying, preparing little altars. I like that very much.
We had Advent with Kelli's family tonight. When asked about hope, Birdie said, "You hope you do it right."
Out of the mouths of babes . . .

Angela said...

Thanks for this reminder! I loved the poem - and the one in the previous post. Advent blessings, dear friend x

Tracy said...

What a beautiful poem. One year I am going to feel like I have the mental space to be mindful of all these things. Unfortunately in Australia we are frantically finishing up the school year while we prepare for Christmas. There is nothing slow about the end-of-year flurry of events as well as a birthday and anniversary in our family.

Perhaps the preparation of the heart is something that needs to be cared for all year round.

Nancy McCarroll said...

Mindfulness and getting ready. We are pregnant for new possibilities for 2014.

Gumbo Lily said...

I am glad you re-posted about the alters too. I've been decorating and clearing things so it doesn't get too overly stuffed with Christmas "stuff." Right now one of my alters has a towel of washed eggs waiting to be refrigerated. I always like seeing them on my countertop. Really lovely poem.

Fiona said...

A lovely post and a timely reminder.

Nancy McCarroll said...

After re-reading this, it is worth repeating. So I am linking it with my blog post today. Hope that is OK.

Kezzie said...

Oh how lovely that poem is. Yes, making it ready for God x