Today, I read the prescribed reading for the second week of Advent. They are about making ready our hearts to receive the Spirit. “Prepare the way” is the message. A voice crying in the wilderness. It struck me that these lessons and readings are the same each year but I must approach them from a different place. I have to take the lesson in a different way every time. Start where ever I am now.
Today, I feel helpless. Last night something happened to show me just how helpless we all are. First, I saw a friend of mine with a very sick son. Despite all our medical efforts, he is just waiting. His parents are the most loving, his community supportive, generous, yet still; he is waiting for a heart.
Yesterday I sat in the room with a mother and father helping them grieve over their suddenly dead infant son; just 6 weeks old. I held my hand to her back as she beheld her child, lifeless. And they wailed for a long time.
Then last night a boy was brought to us by his father. He was in shock and had several serious chronic problems. As we began our resusitative efforts, the father chose not to have us prolong his life. Ethics were correct here. But I have seen worse cases of shock than this boy and we could have done so much to help him. Instead, I comforted the child and the father and watched as his condition worsened.
And writing of all this in my book of prayer, I look up to see the nativity scene we have on a shelf in our home. And I think of Advent and the Infant. So in preparation, let me admit how helpless I am.
I look deeply into my own helplessness, my un-wholeness, my un-healedness. Without Spirit, I am not an animated being, but an empty vessel. We are as helpless as the Divine was when the Spirit and the Word came in the form of a newborn infant. No where in the world was ready for that child.
I can feel many people around the globe feeling helpless. Against destruction, or prejudice or hatred, violence, pollution, or corruption. There is much we can do but only so much.
And to watch our world. I feel helpless in the face of the racial battles in the blood stream of our nation. Helpless when I see civil war, disease and greed like a catalyst for warfare. Helpless to watch the ice in our world melt, and to watch us change our planet and ransom our grandchildren for convenience and profit.
I feel helpless. Our work places us front and center to a certain amount of human suffering and pain. Sometimes, I can sooth or comfort. Sometimes I can empathize. Sometimes I can heal and remove the cause of suffering but much of the time, I can only bear witness and hold a place and a presence for the suffering to happen.
So that is my preparation. To hold and touch my own helplessness. And to cry from my wilderness for the Spirit to come and heal.