“all who heard the shepherds story were astonished.” - luke 2:18
blogging is a very weird thing. i wrote friday’s post in about 30 minutes, just a quick ramble of some of my raw sentiments. like so many other things i have written here over the years, sometimes i cringe when i read it later. i think of ways i could have been nicer or take the edge off or been a better bridge builder. but the truth is writing like this is a good lesson in practicing just showing up as present as possible, knowing i can’t always edit my way into the perfect response and cover every base. i also think it’s totally bizarre, that post had by far the largest number of hits i have ever had in a day in almost 6 years of blogging. that’s just weird.
it tells something about the stirring that is in people’s souls related to christianity. the yearnings are diverse. for some, the ability to share specific beliefs, to see someone live a life of faith and family in a culture that is extremely short on that feels so important. while at the same time, many others are passionate about a different interpretation of the gospel. the tension is obviously mounting.
while so many are walking away from “church’ in its typical forms, so many more are still hungry for Jesus. not the Jesus that’s been portrayed to us through domesticated systems, but the wild and counter-cultural Jesus that topples power & engages in flesh & blood connection with people & systems & ways-of-living-life.
so many of us are experiencing, or have experienced, some kind of faith shift that makes us extra sensitive to stuff like the duck dynasty craziness because it represents a deeper story about where we’ve been and why we changed and what we don’t want to be a part of. once we’ve shifted in our faith, it’s almost like we wear a different kind of glasses that we see everything through now. that causes some of us to be more cynical and annoyed and sensitive. i don’t think that’s a bad thing; it’s all part of the process. i think that we begin to see things from a more honest place, and raw honesty is always a little freaky for those of us who are used to conforming.
at the same time, i was reminded how even though we leave behind certainty in a faith shift, sometimes part of the process is finding a new certainty, too. a certainty of all of the things we don’t believe, don’t want to be affiliated with, don’t want to go back to, don’t want to be part of, don’t want to do.
this is so me. i notice in some interactions how strong my reactions are to not be affiliated with certain aspects of my former faith. but i don’t want to be consumed by my reactions, either.
and so what does all that mean in the midst of advent & the celebration of the birth of Jesus? how do we honor and celebrate that from a good place that feels free and honest and not confined by the mistakes of the past?
today is christmas eve, and i want to swing away from the charged and sounding-a-little-too-certain thoughts from friday’s post and center on a word and action and thought i want more of in the next chapter of my faith journey–wonder.
this is not a word i use very often.
some other words for it are: awe, astonishment, curiosity, doubt, fascination, fear, reverence, shock, uncertainty, marveling.
when i think of the christmas story, i see some sliver of “wonder” in almost every character of the story. joseph, mary, the shepherds, the magi, even herod.
in my faith shift, i have lost a lot of “wonder” over the years. my heart’s not as soft, my glasses fog my vision, and even though i abhor certainty, i have become more certain than i wished. certain that i won’t ever feel what i felt again, certain that i can’t quite trust inspiration, certain that i need to be so careful, certain that i don’t believe certain things that i used to be so certain about.
letting myself be drawn in.
not having it all have to make sense.
the more i think about it, this is the christmas story!
it’s a story of wonder. of openness. of humility.
of “awe, curiosity, doubt, fascination, fear, reverence, shock, uncertainty, marveling.”
i often realize how rarely i live from this place when it comes to faith these days–except for maybe the doubt & fear & uncertainty ones! .
it makes me think of a post i wrote earlier this year called whatever you do, don’t let them take your faith. so often, the systems are what we are trying to break free of but our faith gets so tangled up in them, that we often lose it in the process. i think an important variation might be, “whatever you do, don’t lose your sense of wonder.”
i’ve lost a lot of it over the years.
this christmas and in the year ahead, i want some wonder back. i want to ask better questions, let myself be awed by God, to be curious, to be shocked, to be astonished, to marvel, to let go of certainty-about-not-being-certain, to be open, to taste and experience and consider Jesus in new ways that cause my life to come more alive.
i don’t know what wonder might look like for you this year, but if you struggle with it like i do, i hope some makes its way back in.
a little wonder goes a long way.
merry christmas eve. peace, kathy