Tag Archives: spirituality

An Early Turn to Advent

I always make a turn to Advent in October or November, round about the time of All Saints Day.  My clergy colleagues tease me about my own private liturgical calendar.  I can do no other… I am in the present mood of longing, of listening to past and whispers of future too.  Of waiting AND working for the good that is only God’s to do.  Of seasons’ turn and unceasing rhythm.  Of connections and communion which are design – not sacrament  – of this whole life.

These musings may be cryptic or opening to the reader. Or both.  Reach out if you want more. I can only say that for me the time is Ripe. We are not alone. Christ’s birth is yet happening, as are  his fiery courage and tender simplicity and scandalous partying and counting the costs and shameless death and renewing resurrection. 

With my clients and students, I also am doing the spiritual work of deepening faith long-held and retrieving and discovering new depths of truths previously unknown.  Setting aside the childish versions of a “winner takes all” Christianity is one part of the work – both intellectual and intensely soulful — that I try to do and support all year long. It’s helpful to name it as we approach advent, in hopes that a welcoming of the Christ child might happen in a different, more humble and healing key.  Perhaps one that resonates with “good will to all”.

One sacred text I am reading in my November Advent time… this spirited history piece which reveals stories untold and promises presently unfulfilled in much of death-loving Christendom.  Check it out at www.savingparadise.net.

Saving Paradise: How Christianity Traded Love of This World for Crucifixion and Empire restores the idea of Paradise to its rightful place at the center of Christian thought. Rita Nakashima Brock and Rebecca Ann Parker offer a fascinating new lens on the history of Christianity, from its first centuries to the present day, asking how its early vision of beauty evolved into a vision of torture, and what changes in society and theology marked that evolution.  


Why Weren’t You… You?

Once, the great Hassidic leader, Zusia, came to his followers. His eyes were red with tears, and his face was pale with fear.  “Zusia, what’s the matter? You look frightened!”

“The other day, I had a vision. In it, I learned the question that the angels will one day ask me about my life.”

The followers were puzzled. “Zusia, you are pious. You are scholarly and humble. You have helped so many of us. What question about your life could be so terrifying that you would be frightened to answer it?”

Zusia turned his gaze to heaven. “I have learned that the angels will not ask me, ‘Why weren’t you a Moses, leading your people out of slavery?'”

His followers persisted. “So, what will they ask you?”

“And I have learned,” Zusia sighed, “that the angels will not ask me, ‘Why weren’t you a Joshua, leading your people into the promised land?'”

One of his followers approached Zusia and placed his hands on Zusia’s shoulders. Looking him in the eyes, the follower demanded, “But what will they ask you?”

“They will say to me, ‘Zusia, there was only one thing that no power of heaven or earth could have prevented you from becoming.’ They will say, ‘Zusia, why weren’t you Zusia?'”

–adapted by Doug Lipman

Reprinted from The Storytelling Coach: How to Listen, Praise, and Bring Out People’s Best. Copyright © 1995. It can be heard on the audiotape, The Forgotten Story: Tales of Wise Jewish Men.