Advent Day 10: Alert

Advent Day 10

Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day catch you unexpectedly, like a trap… Be alert at all times … (from Luke 21)

O taste and see that the Lord is good … (Psalm 34:8)

What does it mean to be alert? 

If you watch a TV show around 9 or 10 pm, after many children have gone to bed, you’ll see ads for energy drinks that promise alertness.  To be alert, according to these ads, is to be pumped full of vitamins and caffeine.  The point of being alert, according to the ads, is to be a functioning parent and employee despite the fact that you’ve had no sleep.

Is that it?  Does God call us to be hyperfunctioning, hypervigilant, constantly in need of another shot?

Today’s spiritual practice is alertness or awareness, but no chemicals are required.  Instead, this type of awareness is more like paying attention, or living in the moment.

Take a walk today, preferably in a place with some grass or trees and away from car exhaust.  As you walk, make note of what you experience with your five senses.  In some places, you may even be able to taste the fresh air!

Later, in your journal, write about how you experienced Creation.  How did it feel to walk on ground instead of concrete?  Was it quiet, or did you hear some birds singing to each other about good sources of winter food?  Reflect on all five senses, and if possible, reflect on how you have experienced God’s care in the past.  Maybe you have a specific memory connected to something you heard or saw.

I think this type of alertness is very different from the over-caffeinated version.  When we’re high on artificial energy, we’re actually “drunk,” in a sense, and we are paying even more attention to our worries (that’s why we drank the drink — to get more things checked off the to-do list.)

Spiritual awareness, or awareness of what God is doing, only requires paying attention.  Simply by noticing, we can better understand how God is trying to reach us.  Simply by noticing, we can notice Christ in the face of someone right in front of us, and better understand our mission and calling.

Today’s Scripture reading from the PC(USA):

See the Prayer and Temperament book (info on the Resources page) for more about praying with the five senses.

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