Information, Celebration, Inspiration (Academy President’s Blog)
12.04.13 - Advent: A Time for Prayer, Reflection, Preparation
During Thanksgiving, while my dogs and I were staying in a tiny little cabin alongside Cement Creek in Crested Butte, we spent some of our time reading (me), chewing bully sticks (them), watching the first season of Breaking Bad (two of us), napping and hiking (all three of us).
On our first day, we hiked through the snow alongside the creek. The evergreens were covered with snow; the dogs loved running off the trail through the fluffy snow. One of them likes to make snow angels and the other is always following his curious nose. The dogs easily double the mileage we walk. When not goofing off, they like to run ahead, return to check on me and then race ahead.
The owner of the cabin had told me that if we walked along the road, we would come to the trail that leads into the canyon; and the canyon, she said, “is absolutely stunning.” I love that someone who has lived here as long as she has still finds the surroundings breathtaking.
So, on the next day the dogs and I ventured toward the canyon. We walked along the road for a mile or two, stopping for a pitstop in the creek (only one of us ventured to step in--one very cold one of us!). We got ourselves back to the road and continued along our way and then... It happened. The road was gone, there was only a trail for us to follow. We walked along the tree-canopied, snow-covered trail. And that was it, we were surrounded by the canyon.
The sky was that sensational Colorado blue (what does North Carolina know about blue?), the temperature was in the 20s, but the warmth of the sun fooled us about the that, the mountains lumbered all around us, the evergreens stood at attention, the west side was brown with no snow, the east side snowy...belly deep for the dogs.
But beyond the visual beauty was the sound. Actually, it was the beauty of no sound. Silence. The beauty of silence that you can not find in a house, in a school, in a mall. I don’t think that this sound is anywhere else.
After hiking in for a little while all three of us stopped, stood still, and listened. And waited. I don’t know what we were waiting for, but we all three were standing motionless. I put my head back to look up and out. The dogs were silent and still.
After a little while, at the same time, we all three looked at each other and began to make our way out of the canyon, back to the road and back to the cabin.
I am disappointed that my words and my description fail me here. But I am grateful to have had that moment and I look forward to finding it again soon.
Advent started on Sunday. May you have an Advent filled not just with the shopping, parties and activities, but also with looking, waiting and listening and then knowing. I wish you moments of silence and beauty and mystery.
In Search of our Kneeling Places
In each heart lies a Bethlehem,
an inn where we must ultimately answer
whether there is room or not.
When we are Bethlehem-bound
we experience our own advent in his.
When we are Bethlehem-bound
we can no longer look the other way
conveniently not seeing stars,
not hearing angel voices.
We can no longer excuse ourselves by busily
tending our sheep or our kingdoms.
This Advent let's go to Bethlehem
and see this thing that the Lord has
made known to us.
In the midst of shopping sprees
let's ponder in our hearts the Gift of Gifts.
Through the tinsel
let's look for the gold of the Christmas Star.
In the excitement and confusion, in the merry chaos
let's listen for the brush of angels' wings.
This Advent, let's go to Bethlehem
and find our kneeling places.