"What did you go out to the desert to see?" Lk. 7:24

For the first time in my life I will not be with my family for Christmas this year. While part of me is sad about this, I am not complaining. This year I have chosen to go on a long trip with some old friends over the holidays. As we prepare to leave on our three week trip this weekend, I have found myself engaging in Christmas preparation in a very different way than usual. I am not as worried about getting gifts ready or anticipating a trip home to see family. Amazingly I feel less stressed in this season as I anticipate what I hope is a time of rest, and to be honest I feel much more free since I have an excuse to decline participation in the overly numerous events that surround this time of year. As a result, I have found the ability to be more present with others and experience God's presence through others. This shift has me thinking about Jesus' question in today's reading - what did you go out to the desert to see? Or in other words - what am I looking for? 

In this time of year, perhaps I am typically looking for a sense of happiness in giving the perfect gift to make those I love feel my love. Or I may be looking to experience love from family and friends that helps me experience God's love for us. Or perhaps I am looking to finally comprehend the miracle of Jesus' birth. The truth is, I don't know what I am looking for. Or at least not exactly. I do know, that beneath it all I'm looking for whatever brings me life, growth, the freedom to be completely myself, and in the end joy. But specifically what does that translate into? Will I find it amid my travels this Christmas? I have no idea. I suspect though, that those who went out into the desert to see John the Baptist also didn't know exactly what they were looking for. They heard rumors about life. They saw others going. They went into the desert being open to whatever they might find. Perhaps this season invites us to remember God's surprises and to be open to them.

What am I looking for this season? Lord help me to trust your lead, help me to remain open to whatever you have in store for me.

Joan Ervin