I have two friends who could hardly be more different from one another, and yet, both are faced with similar monumental decisions that will change their lives forever.
For one, this choice is a test that every parent must eventually face. The moment when your child is no longer a child. That murky hormonally charged precipice when one is tempted to cast their parental safety net into the adult realm…or to let their grown child go.
In the case of my other friend, even though there is no child involved, they stand at an almost identical crossroads. A seminal moment where the agonizing loosing of the reins of their life’s work is the only way to let a new dream fully bloom.
At this time of year, as the Christian world celebrates the birth of its Christ, these two have deepened my understanding of this holiday. Their willingness to relinquish their hold on the most important things in their lives in the name of love has changed the way I view the Christian advent.
The symbol of the Creator of the universe giving up his first born to suffer the depths of human indignity and estrangement is the center piece of the most sacred of all Christian mysteries. It is frightening to contemplate releasing our life’s most precious things into this broken world filled with uncertainty, misery and evil.
My two friends have given me a glimpse into the sacrificial way that the God of love rules the universe. Their willingness to let go of the rudder and trust the invisible winds of love to guide their most precious cargo to port marks a decisive step toward spiritual maturity. The risk of relinquishing protective control and guidance is a recognition that the constraints of love are ill served by immutable power. This divine wisdom is founded on the premise that the hearts of men will never be won over by infallible wisdom, lofty piety or some nuclear blast of celestial glory.
However, a world ruled by a God who “lets go”…is a world of anxious struggles and discouraging obstacles. In our infantile spiritual state we long for someone or something to shield us and take control. We are tempted to join with the rabble that chose Caesar while simultaneously rejecting the Messiah. In our immaturity, it is all to easy to bow before rulers, earthly or divine, when such figures promise to take control and offer us security in this broken and unpredictable world. But my two friends have reminded me that the price-tag of such homage is too high. Surrendering our freedom and spiritual dignity is to much to pay for gaining control over our unpredictable lives.
So…during this Advent season I have determined to follow my friends lead. Like them, I am aspiring to grow a little and mature enough to “let go”…to loosen my grip on the guardianship of my life, along with the people and the things that I love. Such letting go inevitably leaves a great vacancy of uncertainty and doubt, therefore…I also want to resist filling that uncomfortable void with the excesses of this digitally spun postmodern age. Filled people are no longer useful. Filled people have no capacity for any real depth of compassion or sorrow…the sacred ground where the Spirit sows and germinates its seeds of love.
As I celebrate with family and friends this season, a couple of millenniums removed from those two homeless refugees that were forced to give birth in a stable, I hope to emulate my two wise friends. I’m endeavoring to “let go” and make sure that there is still room left at the inn