Dear Sor Juana,
Advent has begun and the questions of this season of transition have begun to be revealed. Starting first with a familiar face behind a camera asking me at a public event: “How would you like to be remembered?” I answered “… as a woman who lived with grit, grace and gratitude”. And so as this season has begun I am asking myself, just exactly how am I living like that, how does grit, grace and gratitude actually transpire through, in and around me?
The babe born in a stable, into a family in transit and on the move, surrounded by creatures, honored by followers of stars and welcomed by those unseemly shepherds is a powerful of metaphors on what it means to be born into this species. This child, native to that space, this is The Nativity, the single instruction of simplicity, the code for inclusivity and the guide to living.
The idea of “going native” by taking on some (or all) of the cultural traits of the people around you is surely embedded into the hay of manager. The nativity is asking us to ‘go native’ and follow this little one, to take on the traits of humility and to receive gifts from afar, from the wise and the simple, to hear the songs of angels praising your arrival, to be held and adored. If you really believed and accepted that your presence was a cosmic act and each moment contained divine inspiration surely you would be living with plenty of grace and gratitude! The grittiness is something else, the very human stuff, that brings humility and a constant call back to the labour pains of transition from one world to another. This is all part of the advent season too – trusting in the transition as well as the promise of what is beyond.
When the children were young, each Advent I would buy a new book of the nativity story (and we have quite a collection). It was part of the preparation, along with decorations, cheesy carols and traditional ones floating from various devices and making music together from saucepan drums, guitars and maracas. This season of preparation calls on more from me this year and I am being invited to grit to herald grace and gratitude and I come to the nativity scene to help me get to the other side of this transition with my examen for advent.
Examen for Advent
Are you ready to have a home in the hay?
Are you ready to receive the gifts of strangers?
Are you ready to hear angels singing your praises?
Are you ready to be held?
Are you ready to be adored?
Are you ready to share your breath with the animals?
Are you ready to lie under the stars?
Are you ready to be fed by mother’s milk?
Are you ready to cry in the dark?
Are you ready to be embraced?
Are you ready to flee from oppression?
Are you ready to trust, knowing the sacrifice ahead?