Advent is a moist time. That’s not a word I usually use. It makes people cringe. Universally. But it is a great word for advent. Moist.
This brick wall in New Orleans, covered as it is in moss, is a testimony to how moist New Orleans is. It is a bowl of sludgy water in a swamp. I mean no offense to those I know and love in New Orleans but, it is true. Towels never really dry from shower to shower. Walls like this one always seem wet to the touch.
And yet, at some point this planet moistened. This rock, like so many others in the solar system – even the cosmos, went from dry, hot rock to moist. In time small green things grew and small slimy things emerged and life began on this planet we now so recklessly destroy inch by inch. Once winters came and went, molecules of moisture between dead molecules of meat and wood, expanded and split them apart, making, for the first time, soil. And from soil and bees came life.
It is a fair question in Advent, to ask if we are moist or dry. Do we find ourselves ready for life to be born or are we dry, cracked and flakey like the skin on an old crone.
A baby is on the way. When I held Liz and Joe’s baby for the first time I could not help but want to touch her hands, her feet and her cheek. The skin was so soft. Everything I touched will have been rejected by her body in seven years and she will have a new one – a new body. But not without water.
What is the water of our spiritual lives? Well, water lubricates our muscles, caries oxygen to our brains, moistens our meat.
God becomes meat in Jesus. In the Greek we call Jesus “sarx” or flesh but it is as easily translated meat. So for me, as Advent moves its windy way towards the great coming of God, moisture comes from a few things which make me, like flesh, moist. Time with friends will moisten me. I have for the first time in almost 20 years, cancelled my Christmas party (it was really fun!) in favor of small dinners with close friends. Time in prayer moistens me – just sitting in silence and letting God soak in – even when God is infuriating – and God often is. Rest and sleep moisten my body so I am tending to my sleep. Spiritual reading – and by this I do not mean big, dense tomes which make me feel brilliant to discuss at parties – I mean the short bits – magazines like Weavings (which I cannot too highly recommend for Christmas gifts!) or the Daily Sip or Forward Day By Day or — why not try your hand at writing some meditations of your own and see what comes from you – it will be surprising to see what flows from your pen if you remember that you are a theologian even without clerical collars and academic degrees.
So this Advent is a time to moisten – to find those spiritual disciplines which welcome you into intimacy with the God careening towards us. We are sick and we need a Physician for our souls. And they say, when one is sick, to drink lots of water.