Advent II: Breathing In Peace
– Br. Michael, ofm
Advent hues of purple, pink, magenta and blue fill the morning sky. As the moon set sends fading shimmers of brilliant light upon the land, these soft Advent colors emerge in the East as dawn begins to break. I pause. I breathe in, “Is this Advent peace?” I ask myself. I may be the only one noticing this moment in this way. My day ahead may be chaotic or not turn out as planned, but in this moment… right now… peace… fills me. Psalm 85 is the psalm for this Second Sunday of Advent and it seems to capture this moment of peace. The refrain declares “Show us your steadfast love, O Lord, and grant us salvation.” Then hidden in the verses this gentle line, “The Lord will speak peace to his people.” Yes, this brief moment of pausing in the dawning light is a reminder of God’s steadfast love which penetrates my very living and, in this love, I hear God’s peace spoken for me.
Advent peace is assurance of love in this demanding world. Advent peace is the gift of each breath; we simply need to pay attention. Advent peace is our heart and breath aligning with the promise of Emmanuel – God with us – always.
This season can easily rob us of peace with demands, false expectations, Hallmark perfection, binge distracting and this year with restrictions and social distancing. Yet, Advent peace is strong, it is resilient, it is braver than demands, binges or restrictions. It works its way through our cover ups and whispers to us: “look up, look beyond, look within.” When we listen to the whisper Advent peace offers a sunrise painted in gentle hues as we look up. Advent peace offers an invitation to let go, to forgive, to begin again as we look beyond. Advent peace offers us strength, resilience and bravery to face the daily challenges as we look within (God dwells this close).
Advent peace is a gift, breathe it in, now, in this very moment. Pause. Stop. Just be. Our days are full and our hours filled with noise. Pause. Turn it all off. Either in the morning hours or as the sunsets step outside – no cellphone, no cup of coffee in hand, just you (in a jacket and with mitts of course) and God (in all glory and goodness) … just be… breathe in peace. Pause. Say nothing. Do nothing. Just be, let God’s peace speak to your heart. As you inhale, breathe in the promise of Emmanuel – God with us. As you exhale, breathe out the peace of God which is filling you again and again. As we go forth into this Advent week, peace be in our breath, peace be in our bones, peace be in our doing and being.
Week Two of Advent is known as the Week of Peace. May this second week of Advent awaken us to peace. Where do you need to incorporate Peace into your daily living these days ahead? Let that peace be your guide breaking through the distractions of the week.
Welcome sustaining hope
you are always here
and yet in this season
you are again so near.
Welcome transforming peace
you gently encircle my aching heart
again, in this season
awakening me to do my part.
Welcome deep, profound joy
you stir my old ways to new life
in this season
loosening my bonds of strife.
Welcome everlasting love
you fill my day and comfort my night
may this season
see me embrace the gift of light.
Artwork: Claire Ziprick
Photo: Yannis Papanastasopoulos