I feel a distance from that awareness of God I had during my first days of reawakening to Christ.
I don’t blame this on anyone, most especially the people who’ve welcomed me into their community. It’s been wonderful to meet Christians with whom I could share my experiences of God, and who could witness to me their own spiritual journey. I’ve been hungry for community for a long time, it seems.
If anything, I think this may be an issue of language and tense.
Any language which places the reality of the Kingdom of God in some far off place creates in me a feeling of distance. When the Kingdom becomes “Heaven,” or an afterlife, I feel a distance. When the Kingdom becomes some ideal, unapproachable place, I feel a distance. When our conversations about the reality of God in the world putter out, and we instead worry ourselves with the politics of the Church or the ways in which one denomination is superior or inferior to another, I feel a distance.
This sensation of distance has come up quite often lately. It’s uncomfortable, and I find myself frustrated rather quickly over it. My “conversion experience” was little more than one, clear moment in which I consented to believe in God. It was as immediate as anything I’ve ever felt. It was a thoroughly present tense experience. So when I feel this distance from God, or from God’s Kingdom in the world, I feel like something must be wrong.
But as uncomfortable as that feeling may be, I wonder if this sensation of distance is exactly the right thing to be happening right now.
It’s Advent, the season in which we are called to wait for the coming Christ, the light which will shine in the darkness, illuminating all things. My personal theology says that Christ has come already, and the light is already shining. Jesus was that light, and he came to show that light to all who would see, and to call each of us to bear witness to it.
But in Advent we feel a distance. We feel the darkness.
The Pagan in me says that’s probably the most natural thing in the world.
It’s the cold season of Samhain in the Northern Hemisphere, and everything around me is going dormant. There are no leaves on the trees outside my office. The ground is frozen. The days are dark, and the nights come in the middle of the afternoon. This weather makes it rather easy to believe that the lifeblood of the world is running dry.
But the promise of Advent is that “the glory of God shall be revealed.” In this season of darkness, the season preceding the Yule celebrations of my friends and lovers of the earth, I am being called to be at peace with my own sense of waiting; my own experiences of distance. I am being called to suspend my need for God to be here right now, because God will be here.
God is always forthcoming.
I just need to be patience, and make myself ready.
So perhaps next time I find myself in a conversation in which God is placed over there, or the Kingdom is talked about in future tense, I will try to remember the words of Isaiah: “the glory of God shall be revealed”. I will try and quell my impatience with the remembrance that there is value in the waiting. I will try to embrace the distance.
There is much work to be done in the world. There are many who need to be served, cared for, clothed, fed, loved. I have so much to do yet.
But it is a fine thing to wait.
To wait, and prepare.