A few weeks ago, I had an opportunity to facilitate a retreat for medical students. Among the retreatants was the nine year old daughter of a couple helping with the retreat. As part of getting ready for the time we were going to spend together we asked two questions: “What on your to do list do you need to let go of in order to be present?” Everyone wrote things down and when ready they threw their list in the fire.
Next, we asked, “What is your hope(s) for the next 24 hours?” Everyone had about ten minutes to think about this question and write it down in their notebook journal. Then we invited participants to read their hopes. The youngest among us, spoke up with her gentle nine year old voice and said, “I hope to hang out, eat, play and have fun.”
Hang out, eat, play and have fun. Her words have seeped their way into my Advent waiting soul. What might it mean to put these hopes into my Advent waiting? Hanging out, takes time and I must let go of my agendas in order to really hang out. Eat…this season is full of physical food, but it is not limited to Christmas sweets. I want to be fed, to eat that which nurtures my Advent waiting…words of encouragement…art that nurtures my soul’s hunger for beauty or perhaps music that anoints my heart with good vibrations.
As an adult, I can get so rigid, so list bound that I forget that life is not only about attending to the must do list. It is also about being in the present moment and breathing with a sense of flexibility or play. It is very challenging to play when one is not flexible. Our Christmas stories are full of the great and wise, and the humble being moved by twinkling stars and unexpected guests in the field.
Perhaps the ability to play and have fun has a place in our Advent getting ready. Perhaps it’s about being in touch with a God who longs to be intimate and present. A God who longs to hang out, eats, plays and have fun.