Monday, December 24, 2012

GUEST POST: Born in our Darkness: Peace by Sonny Lemmons of Looking through the Windshield

The weeks and candles of Advent have so many different meanings, each as personal as each Christian's year; that is, where this moment on the calendar finds them on their spiraling adventure to live the spiritual life. That's why my STORY friends Caris, Katie, Brenna and I all are shining light on the season with a synchroblog. And a link-up. AND guest posts from more of my favorite writers from around the InterWebs.

This is the last week of Advent -- actually, the last day. A new season starts tomorrow: Christmastide, running up until Epiphany, the much sung about 12th day of Christmas.

But first, we consider peace. And the angels. And I get to introduce you to my very own personal angel: Sonny Lemmons, who I met this summer during STORY and bonded with afterward over beer and food and ginger cocktails. Seriously, I've been incoherent with the flu all weekend, and Sonny swooped in to the rescue with this guest post about pausing and considering what this season means, just when we most need a pause. I know I do.

Sonny Lemmons is a husband, stay-at-home dad and imperfect follower of a perfect God, nurturing his dream of being a writer. He probably is drinking coffee while you read this.

Growing up in Mississippi, the prediction of snowfall was - shall we say - greeted with mixed reactions. On one hand, you had the contingency of kids who all but exploded with joy at the idea of being able to sled down something other than grass. On the other end of the spectrum, there were adults who clogged the parking lots of grocery stores, grousing about the weather while buying up as much milk and bread as they possibly could before the impending apocalypse of icy white annoyance descended from the heavens.

As the Reverend Crosby taught us, we would dream about a white Christmas. But more often than not, it would remain just that: a dream. Through either some fluke of nature or divine providence, IF it were to snow, odds are it would snow either immediately before or just after Christmas Day. Not in great quantities, but enough to make the roads "impassable" to people unfamiliar with how to traverse something not purely asphalt.

I have several memories of sitting outside on the steps leading to my parents' house, after the sun had descended, just listening to the sound of snowfall. And before you ask: yes. Snow makes noise. As the powder falls through branches laid barren at the outset of the season, a sound not unlike nature itself saying "Shhhh..." echoes through all of creation. Life itself is asking us to pause and consider what this time of year symbolizes.

Fitting, then, that at this point in the Advent season, we are to reflect on the idea of peace.

The Psalmist recommends we are to seek peace where we may find it (Psalm 34:14). And right about now, most of us could USE some peace:

  • From the landfill of wrapping paper and boxes clogging our recycling bins.
  • From the never-ending procession of family members coming to visit or from having to load up in the car YET! AGAIN! to go visit relatives.
  • From the discussions (okay: debates) from opinionated or bigoted individuals that grind family dinners to a screeching halt.
  • From the idea of braving the mall to return (without a stinking receipt) a gift that was a sweet gesture, but ultimately unwanted. The ceramic rabbit that holds cotton balls and you pull them out of its tail area? Thanks, but no thanks.

It's a beautiful paradox that we can juxtapose our modern sense of needing SERENITY NOW! with what had to have been a time in which peace was truly needed:

  • From the bleats of animals as Mary tried to rock her sleeping infant.
  • From the unique scents associated with goats, cows, and other livestock that were housed in a less-than-sanitary environment.
  • From the fear, concern, and heartsick love a young, Jewish mother held for her newborn child, whom the Scriptures had prophesied of as ultimately being bruised, broken and despised.

For those of us who are parents? That last bullet point should cause our hearts to come to a screeching halt as we envision what it might have been like to even contemplate that future for our children. We live in a society that causes us to pause and be concerned about the "What Ifs" that our kids might encounter. To live as Mary and Joseph both did in the knowledge of surety brought through faith in God that a bleak future awaits your child?

It kinda puts the annoyance of returning that ceramic rabbit into a bit of perspective.

So as we feel our teeth clench to the point of chipping, may we all remember that while there are bigger, grander, more important things that can wreck our emotions and destroy our peace, this final week of Advent is designed to give us something to carry into the next season. It's through no small bit of what I'll call "Divine Irony" that a season crafted to give us anticipation leaves us at the end with what is needed most to settle our hearts: peace.

And maybe, just maybe, if you're fortunate enough to be able to spend some time listening to the snow falling, you can feel the Spirit quieting your soul in the midst of it all.

The Synchroblog

For more reflections on peace today, don't forget to visit:

Caris Adel
Katie Axelson
Brenna D.

For more from today's guest Sonny Lemmons, visit his blog, Looking through the Windshield

The Link-up

And don't forget to share your reflections on peace with us, using the Linky Tools below! Advent ends with Christmas tomorrow, but the link-up will stay open through Sunday.

You also can add your favorite Christmas hymns to the collaborative playlist Caris started on Spotify.

For more information about the Born in our Darkness synchroblog and link-up, click here. For all posts in the Born in our Darkness series here on my blog, click here.

Merry Christmas!

Photo credit: Caris Adel and her mad Photoshopping skills.

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