A few things come to mind when I hear the word Advent. Christmas. Childhood. St. Thomas by the Sea the little church on Panama City Beach that became our spiritual home. Manger scenes and the cold of Winter. My mother's Nativity Scene coming down from the attic and us setting it up with that child-like sense of wonder.
What I never thought of was the thing that sometimes must accompany Expectation is the Willingness to leave all behind. To embark on a new journey. To cast our eyes toward something instead of looking behind.
In this mornings readings my eyes fell to the story of Jesus calling his disciples. Hey You, fisherman dude. Yeah, that's right, I'm talking to you. I've chosen you.
I can see a smelly, fisherman like one of the guys from my old neighborhood that had fished all night and opened a natty light for breakfast. That little boy jump in his stomach that this man is singling him out. Seeing beyond the fish guts and the bloodshot eyes, the callused hands. Seeing something worthy in him that says, I've chosen you. But that momentary flutter of odd pride snaps to reality when he hears . . .
Drop that net. Follow me - now. Don't look back. Leave those fish where they are. Time to go.
Ummm, but . . . but . . .
But this Man called Jesus is already moving on, talking to someone else, walking forward.
In that moment there is self-doubt. Did He call me? He called me right? There's the tried ache of back muscles from pulling heavy nets, and a mind that could use a few hours sleep. The clothes could really use a wash and maybe a meal would be good. Three cans of Natty on an empty stomach not the best of breakfasts. And the sound of that voice, that compelling voice, is traveling farther away. A decision has to be reached. Not later, or tomorrow or on a rested, full stomach. Now.
Many things in life do not arrive in what might appear to be convenient times for us. Advent is no different. Sometimes we expect the birth, we follow the star, we've geared up our hearts to follow, follow, follow and still - there is the messy moment of stepping away. Leaving the comfort of our old habits, abodes, mindsets, village, tribe and facing the calling that is upon us. This impetus to answer the call of this longing for something wondrous that is yet to come.
But, in spite of all - heartbreak, loose ends, tired minds and weary shoulders, still - we answer. Therein lies the magic.