She had been sick for a couple days, so she had been sleeping in bed with us. Early in the morning she was in that sleepy, half-awake mode. She reached over and pulled me to face her, and placed her little hand on my cheek.
It was intentional, it was tender, and I didn’t want to move. I didn’t want to breathe. I wanted to remain completely still and just be present to this little soul who loves me so well. I wanted to feel that little hand on my face, to just let everything pause.
We so deeply need this. We need to feel that intentional touch of love.
This season seems to be crying out for that awareness of being loved. That awareness of being seen, and of being known. People are crying out to be heard. Literally. Our fears and our anxiety and our anger, alongside our hope and our desires, are all clamoring for attention. The result is chaos, it seems. The result is this feeling of being unsettled.
We need that touch that pauses everything. That touch that makes us hold our breath and pay attention.
And so…Advent arrives. The season calling us to pause, to listen and to hold our breath as we wait.
I don’t know about you, but I so need this pause right now. I need to feel deeply the love of God in the same way I felt Maddie’s touch on my cheek…that intentional moment of awareness of His love.
That moment when God revealed to us His love in a more intimate and deep way than anything we could have imagined. In the midst of the busyness of this season, and all the turmoil of emotions we have just experienced, and continue to experience, with this election…pause.
I love the following from Frederick Buechner, returning to it each year as an anticipation of this season. Advent requires us to be intentional and to listen. We, as a society, are not great at waiting and being patient. We are not great at listening and being silent. We are not great at anticipating…so this is an exercise requiring some discipline. But, oh how our soul needs this. Buechner:
Advent by Frederick Buechner
The house lights go off and the footlights come on. Even the chattiest stop chattering as they wait in darkness for the curtain to rise. In the orchestra pit, the violin bows are poised. The conductor has raised his baton.
In the silence of a midwinter dusk there is far off in the deeps of it somewhere a sound so faint that for all you can tell it may be only the sound of the silence itself. You hold your breath to listen. You walk up the steps to the front door. The empty windows at either side of it tell you nothing, or almost nothing. For a second you catch a whiff in the air of some fragrance that reminds you of a place you’ve never been and a time you have no words for. You are aware of the beating of your heart.
The extraordinary thing that is about to happen is matched only by the extraordinary moment just before it happens. Advent is the name of that moment.
The Salvation Army Santa Claus clangs his bell. The sidewalks are so crowded you can hardly move. Exhaust fumes are the chief fragrance in the air, and everybody is as bundled up against any sense of what all the fuss is really about as they are bundled up against the windchill factor.
But if you concentrate just for an instant, far off in the deeps of yourself somewhere you can feel the beating of your heart. For all its madness and lostness, not to mention your own, you can hear the world itself holding its breath.
Make the space and the time to listen this season. Find the writings and the songs and the images which draw you in. Be aware of that touch of love from the Father, and hold your breath. Don’t move for a few minutes and just be aware. It changes everything.
Behold the Lamb of God, Andrew Peterson