Sunday, December 04, 2016

Grace Me with Your Gifts

Untitled, Pater Karl Stadler, OSB
Second Sunday of Advent

By Beth DeCristofaro

On that day, a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom. The spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him: a spirit of wisdom and of understanding, a spirit of counsel and of strength, a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the LORD, and his delight shall be the fear of the LORD. (Isaiah 11:1-3)

… the one who is coming after me is mightier than I. I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in his hand. He will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire. (Matthew 3:11-12)

I am not worthy to carry your sandals, Lord, but I ask for the grace to wear them and continue your work of building the Kingdom of Heaven here, now and today.


Our house sits on a sloping street so out my elevated back window I look through tree tops now bare of leaves, with broken, swaying branches that will undoubtedly come down in the winter storms.  Those multi-hued brown branches make an abstract, fluctuating artistic design against a sky more open and observable in this season.  The squirrels are also revealed and their leaping from tree to tree, twisting run down trunks, are delightful to watch.

In summer, however, my house is sheltered in green screens, front and back.  Walls of greens wave in breezes and cavort in wind.  This wall is vibrant, its many variations, textures and shapes mesmerize.  Birds flock into their cover and burst out, landing on my deck to peck frantically at seeds.  After 25+ years the colors, the might, the solidity in spite of movement – perhaps like a verdant ocean - continue to give me a sense of place. 

And then there are Spring and Fall!

Sometimes I wonder what God sees.  Does God truly know what each furrowed brow of every human being looks like as he or she struggles in thought or pain?  Or does God see budding holiness?  Does God know the laugh lines of each person or see nascent wholeness?  Or is God’s focus much bigger?  Does God see the shining rhythm of millions of beating hearts?  Does God view galaxies like I see one oak leaf?  Or does God see time, space, soul, emotion all as one beautiful totality already radiating the Kingdom because, in history, the shoot has sprouted from Jesse’s stump?  A spirit of wisdom and of understanding, a spirit of counsel and of strength, a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the LORD has walked, died and risen among us and is manifest in our piety and our action. 

God’s perspective is so different than mine.  I am awed and humbled by the singular beauty of a wren but God sees and loves that wren and myself, all that is more of God, fashioned and nourished, than the blood in my own veins is mine.  If I approach this reality then I have a nano-minuscule sense of that burning, unquenchable fire which is God, which is the Kingdom, which I have been graced to be part of the building. 

I am not worthy to carry his sandals.  But He invites me to be his friend.  He welcomes me to place tiny pieces of love in the mosaic of his kingdom through a kind word, a hand stretched out to invite, a courageous reproof to cruelty, a peaceful act in a chaotic world.  What am I going to do today to add to His Kingdom?

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