4th Sunday in Advent; the Spirit in everything…

It has been weirdly warm in the UK this last week- up into double figures even up here in Scotland. Last week it was winter, now it is something else and the feeling it brings to me is a quiet unease. Something is out of kilter.

Meanwhile the news channels remain full of anti-Christmas, in stark contrast to the dichotomous forced festivities that surround us. Politicians continue to use fear to manipulate us towards some ill defined goal. Advent indeed.

Sometimes it seems that everything must fall.

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Last weekend we crunched up into the Argyll forest, laced as it was in a crust of ice. It was stunningly beautiful, even in winter stasis. Wild places like this have a way of reminding us that sometimes there is a season to stop; to re-gather; to become rather than just to consume. They remind us that there is an interconnected fabric behind everything and we are just a small part of the whole.

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In the midst of the woods we came across branches wrapped up in something that from a distance looked like cotton wool, but as we came closer it looked like some kind of fungal growth, fluted and fragile like the baleen of a whale.

When I gently placed a finger on the substance, it was revealed to be ice. What might have caused such a thing? Why only here and there? We noticed that the conglomerations were only on branches broken off by storms and hung up in the canopy. Perhaps it was something to do with warming exhale of moist decomposition held like a ghost in the cold air.

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It appealed to the poet in me. It seemed as like the shadow left behind as spirit went free. Almost as if the tall tree was releasing its essence back to unite with the Spirit behind all things.

I realise that this might sound like some kind of reversion to animistic primitive spirituality; the sort that sees our ancestors in every stone and tree (although who am I to question the meaning others make from what is never fully known?) It is just that I have come to believe that God is not locked up in our religious buildings or our cherished and overly defended doctrines.

He is in everything.

The coming of Messiah was not the first time God entered the world- he was always here. Rather it was the first time he became one of us, so that we might finally see that those apparently urgent things we find so pressing are often just passing distractions from the real business of learning the way of love. Certainly I have lots to learn yet.

When the time comes for our own exhalation, may the shape we leave behind be every bit as beautiful.

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