"Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means “God is with us.” When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home." - Mt. 1:23-24

There are moments in this season where I feel a lot more like Advent than Christmas. Advent is the question and the pleading, where Christmas is the answer, the response to the howl. Advent says the baby is on its way, but He is not quite here yet, and hope is coming. However, the yearning is still real and the loneliness in the waiting can be deafening at times. Yet how many times have I allowed the loneliness to flow, let the dam burst within, and something would shift and set me free. When I meet the depth of my loneliness, engage it, and befriend it, it reveals the truth about what I am grieving, without giving up on the extravagant promise of Christmas.

In today’s gospel, Joseph’s “yes” to God encourages me to not react, but to respond. Joseph gave himself time with God to ruminate on what seemed to have happened before making a decision. He did not rely on his human intuition or intelligence alone. Joseph gave God permission to overcome his fears and doubts to do God’s will. He got out of the way and let God be God, allowing his fears to transform into courage, emptiness to plenitude, and distance to intimacy.

My spiritual director once said, “You want to know the moon, the stars, and what is going to happen five years from now.” As much as I wanted to laugh with her and deny the observation, my heart knew it was true. Walking on unknown paths frightens me. It invites me to relinquish control and fall open to Advent in its anticipation, allowing faith to seep through everything I could possibly conceive in my mind. It helps me understand how the birth of a human heart is an ongoing process, where each experience has the potential to deepen us and I am called to ask myself: Will I take a chance to be expansive and free or hold onto my own plans? Will I rely on myself or am I going to take that risk in being led to be fully human? Will I trust the unfolding of God’s dreams for me?

Lord, help ready my heart so I can illuminate Your will this Advent....

Tam Lontok