For the first week of Advent, which is about hope, I wrote about God’s Coordinates. I explored the place in our lives of deepest yearning and disappointment and suggested that this is the place where you will meet God. If you dare to enter.
This week is the second week of Advent, and it’s about Peace. I want to continue to explore God’s coordinates and the topic of peace… Here it goes.
So, you’ve arrived. At the coordinates… the geolocation of your deepest yearning and disappointment. And you didn’t have to travel anywhere to get there. You just had to resist the temptation to flee to some attachment and take the required moments to let reality set in. This opened the door to the room in your heart that you’ve worked your whole life to avoid. And its agony as you realize that your yearning is clouded with disappointment and an emptiness that all your efforts could ultimately never heal. It’s enough to make you bang your head against the wall, because even if you have a life of some meaning and fulfillment, it’s never enough.
And what exactly is your yearning? Chances are, whatever it is, you’ve dressed it up in a multitude of ways throughout the course of your life. But in its essence, your yearning is a wholeness of life that is unclouded by life’s final solution, death. And what is the disappointment you feel? It is the culmination of your personal incompleteness, the pain of all the trauma you bear in life, and ultimately death.
The truth of the matter is that every ambition, every project, every “love” you’ve committed your heart to, and every escape you’ve ever planned is left wanting. Wanting… that is the feeling, isn’t it? You’re aware that you continue to want something and all of your years have amounted to a comedy of looking for love in all the wrong places. You’ve tried to lift off from this place of despair in an effort to gain something, anything, to ease your wanting. You’ve searched everywhere to fill the void that can only be filled by crossing the threshold of the door you desperately avoid going through… That door in your heart where the truth lies. It’s a room filled with yearning and disappointment.
In a strange way, this place of pain is the genesis of your salvation. You’re here and it’s agony. But I implore you to be present in the pain of yearning and disappointment. Your impulse is to get up and lift off from this location and do everything you can to resist this low place. But hold on.
I am re-reading Kester Brewin’s lovely book, Getting High: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the Dream of Flight. It’s so good… even better the second time. In it he traverses all the ways humankind have sought to lift of for flight. Through the dreams of flight in the renaissance, to the moon landing, the LSD movement, religious ecstasy, and technology. All of us, born flightless seek to lift off from our earthly, mortal selves, somehow believing if we can get high, we will solve our problems. Like Icarus we reach for the sun with prosthetic wings yearning for some illusive fullness.
This connects deeply with the heart of where I am going with this topic of God’s coordinates. Hint: they not “up there”, but down here, on the ground, in the space between yearning and disappoint.
There is a term in technology called “product truth”. It is the raw reality of what a given software can actually do. And there is always some distance between the poetry of marketers and the reality of the code. What I am advocating for here is immersion in our DNA, our human product truth. This requires getting close to our incomplete flesh. I am suggesting that we meet God by being present with the earthly and incomplete truth of our being. And that truth is on the ground, in the flesh and in the centre of your human experience. The pain comes as the veneer of all that you project your life to be falls away. This hurts. It is the naked truth.
The second week of Advent is about peace… a lasting peace that goes beyond the absence of war. It’s a peace that embodies flourishing of the spirit. God is known as the prince of peace. And one of the names for God is Emanuel. It means, “God with us”.
In the midst of your place of yearning and disappoint, you are on the precipice of a great realization. That God is with you and there is light on the horizon after your dark night…even if a physical death is immanent. God is found in the midst of your trial and this is good news. That the one who made you loves you and wants to give you peace through himself in the midst of your despair. The promise is not one of ideal circumstances and a life without trial, but one of future resurrection and the daily presence of God with you in this life. This equates to a life free from the pain of “wanting” even if circumstances are not ideal… and this is a blessing as you will be more present in each moment to the eternal reality of love in this life.
You, we , are all meant to be full of eternal spirit and our sadness stems from our inability to grasp this. Take heart… there is a reason why Jesus called the poor in spirit blessed. They are on the doorstep of realizing his peace.
During Advent we continue to wait for the light of the world to be born. In the middle of a frazzled world and a broken life, know that your peace is on the horizon. Just wait for it.