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"An Echo in the Void; Preparing for Advent"

by Mai-Anh Le  
11/09/2010 / Devotionals

This is my reflection on Isaiah 35:1-2, preparing for Advent: 1 The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, 2it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy. The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon; they will see the glory of the LORD, the splendor of our God.

We are on the verge of entering one of the richest and powerful seasons the Church has to offer. How do we prepare for it so that we can ensure we won't miss out on another year's peace, joy, and thanksgiving for the entire holy season? It may sound odd, but one of the best ways we can prepare for a special seasons like Advent is to "get in touch with ourselves" again. We may not always be aware of it but in today's fast and busy lane of life it is too easy to get "out of touch" with what is going on inside our very own mind as well as our very own hearts. When we are unaware of ourselves achieving peace and happiness is difficult which also makes it difficult to quiet down the noise in our minds so that we can hear God speak to us. We are about to begin our Advent, which happens to coincide with our Western culture's secular traditions of preparing for Christmas. It is a hectic and busy time of the year and there is no doubt it is inevitable that we'll feel one day of its madness. Everyone seems to be rushing, expectations are high, our schedules at work and at home and our own personal schedule all have conflicting reservations and this challenges our relationships with family and friends. With all the frenzy, emotions are bound to be complex and tender, but this is all part of this season.

The following days will bring us some very powerful readings of Isaiah the Prophet. It might stir our thoughts and our anxieties. We will re-enter the ancient tradition of a people longing for the coming of a Savior. Maybe we even recall our days of young when Christmas was so magical because of all the twinkling lights that danced in the streets, in the trees, and on the roof tops where Santa parks his sleigh. We longed for Christmas then because of the gifts and the magic. But now we must ask ourselves as adults, "What is it I long for now?" Chances are the answer won't come easy and repeating it over and over again in our minds only amounts to a bigger distraction. But walk around with question and let it penetrate through all that through the thick layers of distractions, through the barriers that we've put up, and through our self denials - ...the more we walk around with that question the more rich and more fully we will experience the power of Advent.

J.R.R. Tolkein is the author of the book The Lord of the Rings. It is a story that depicts characters that inhabit this world during a fantasy world of "Middle Earth" when existence here seemed to move between hope and despair. Their hope comes in part because of prophecies in the story that promise the triumph of good over evil. As we enter Advent we will read and pray about the expectant hope of Israel through the words of Isaiah, the prophecies of a prophet through stories that promises good will again triumph over evil. The images Isaiah presents attempt to capture a sense of what we feel when we are distant from our God. Earth during this time is also filled with darkness and gloom, thick clouds cover the people, and the thirst and hunger destroys their body if they are not killed by ongoing war and conflict. They express the powerlessness and anxiety we experience when we feel vulnerable and defense-less. But most important of all there are images of the future day the day that we've all been eagerly waiting for, the day that can only be called the Lord's. This is when all the tears will be wiped dry, when there will be plenty to drink and to eat, and war and weapons will be a thing of the past. This is the day when God's salvation will be made known and His victory shall be complete.

These are precious days for us to come into intimate contact with our own need for salvation. It is a time to make friends with out our tears, our darkness, and our sorrow, a time to make friends with our hunger and thirst. And in these moments of certainty we ask ourselves: "What's missing? What eludes my grasp? What name can I give to the "restlessness" in my heart? What emptiness do I keep trying to "feed" with addictions, with fantasy, with food, business, excitement and pleasure? What is the conflict that is toying with my mind, keeping my eyes wide open each night through? What is the sinful, hypocritical, arrogant, unloving, self-centered pattern for which I haven't asked for forgiveness and healing? Where do I need peace that the world cannot give?

As we come to know ourselves we come to know where we need a Savior and that is how we can each best prepare for Advent. Prepare to listen to the promises revealed during Advent. Prepare to listen to the rich text announcing the liberation we can truly long for. "Because when our heart is open, when our hands are open, when our mouths are open, and ready to ask for freedom, healing, and peace then we are ready to begin Advent."

My name is Mai-Anh Le. I'm a 35 year old Catholic woman who's currently suffering from a complicated case of chronic lyme disease though I am healing. Before this illness I was an mechanical engineer for NASA. I loved my work and the things I was able to do, but the lyme has changed much of my lif

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