I had the best of intentions at the start of this Advent season, hands down my favorite liturgical season. And then …. life happened and I responded with my little human ways. You know the drill, anxiety and busyness leads to stress and grumpiness and less patience and less compassionate responses to the folks in your own life because of course you are busy and stressed. Maybe you don’t know, but it’s a familiar pattern for me unfortunately, and one I fell right back into the past couple of weeks.
Thankfully, this past summer when I was on my annual directed retreat I made a commitment to schedule some mini-retreat time this December. I tend to take the most beautiful photos when I am on retreat, and so when I saw a listing for a Contemplative Photography retreat in Advent, I signed up right away. For the months since, I have guarded this weekend on my calendar, knowing I suppose deep down that by now, I’d need it. And I certainly did!
While the retreat itself was excellent, especially the experiences of guided visio divina and the opportunity to pray with the photos taken by the other retreatants, really it was an opportunity to reset my own best intentions. Adapting today’s second reading from the 2nd Letter of Peter, I pray:
I can no longer ignore this one fact,
I am beloved, and so are those around me and all of creation,
and with God one day is like a thousand years
and a thousand years like one day.
God’s promise is not delayed, as some think of ‘delay,’
but God is patient with me,
not wishing me or you harm
but that I would return & center myself on love.
Since everything is grounded in love,
what sort of person might I be
living with a spirit of gratitude and compassion,
waiting for and hastening the coming of love in our midst.
That is of course the kind of person I want to be, to see with God’s eyes the beauty and love and light and hope in the midst of the busyness and anxiety and sorrow and uncertainty. My best intentions may not seem like enough, but they are because God is patient and there is always today to return to the center and prepare the way for the incarnation of love, reflecting God’s love for us to the world.