Awaiting the One who is Coming
This is the Sunday of ‘joy’ in the Advent journey…for ‘the Lord is very near’…it is the joy of anticipation. Notice how we feel within when we are anticipating something we long for, and it is near…the heart is lifted up in ‘anticipation’ and already joy is lingering around our hearts. Indeed, with this third Sunday of Advent, we are leaning more and more into the reality of God’s coming to each one of us and to our world. We can feel it in our longing, in our hope, and I dare say even as the darkness in nature gets darker!
And what does the mystical theologian Meister Eckhart have to say: “You cannot do better than to place yourself in darkness and in unknowing” (Sermons and Treatises, Vol. 1, sermon #4, p.41). Why do you think placing ourselves in ‘darkness and unknowing’ are the right ingredients for preparing the soul for this new birth of God in our lives? Here is what Eckhart says: “‘But what is this darkness? What do you call it? What is its name?’ The only name it has is ‘potential receptivity’, which certainly does not lack being nor is it deficient, but it is the potential of receptivity in which you will be perfected” (p.41). Just think about this for a moment: placing ourselves in ‘darkness and unknowing’ makes us receptive, enhances the potential of receptivity for God’s ‘new gesture of love’. Our inner lives can get so cluttered with our agendas, our incessant thoughts, our wants, the ways we control so much of our lives, and so on…this time asks that we let it all go…all of it…and go into the dark silence, resting in unknowing and the pregnant darkness.
Eckhart continues on this theme: “…to keep yourselves empty and bare, just following and tracking this darkness and unknowing without turning back – it contains the chance to gain the One who is all things” (p.42). ‘To keep ourselves empty and bare’: in this space, in the solitude of the heart, this is where the word of life is to be born. Clearly it is not easy to dwell in unknowing and darkness…we want out of it, don’t we? Still, in the waiting, if we can perceive, feel this darkness as potential receptivity it enhances our faith and our restlessness quiets down!
Eckhart emphasizes that God cannot refrain from acting in our lives when he finds us “empty and bare” (p.43). Being ‘empty and bare’ reflect to God that we are ready, that we have opened within our heart’s depths…even if ever so slightly. Then, God does not hesitate, “it is one instant,” in a flash of a moment, “the being ready and the pouring in…God gives grace: the very instant the spirit is ready” (p.43). Is this not a cause for joy and does it not make our faith alive and engaged? Eckhart, sounding like Bernard of Clairvaux, then says this: “God can hardly wait for you to open up. The Holy One longs for you a thousand times more than you long for Him: the opening and the entering are a single act” (p.44). There are so many things that can pull us down in our world and even in our personal lives. The Advent message is real, it is full of hope…the Incarnate One is coming…Love is coming…Mercy is coming….Peace is coming. We have a choice: to get wrapped up in ourselves or to lean into the reality of the ‘Other’, the coming One, the One who envelops all darkness, who is ‘the Light in the darkness, the Light that darkness could not overcome’.
The Holy One is waiting to act within our lives and in our world. Eckhart says: “God lies in wait for us with nothing so much as with love” (p.46). Love, in Christ, is waiting: for our movement of opening, for our receptivity, for our leaning into the promise that God will once again pour Divine life and love into our lives.