Falling . . .
The thing about falling is not the falling. That can be lovely in itself. Remember the “Nestea Plunge” into a pool on a hot summer day? Or falling into a really big pile of autumn leaves? Ever tried skydiving or hang gliding? Even running is actually falling and constantly catching yourself with each step. And of course there is falling in love . . .
No, the thing about falling is not the falling. It’s the hitting bottom. The landing. The thing about falling is the end of the fall.
A walk through the woods just before Thanksgiving got me thinking about falling. I was watching leaves and acorns and thinking about letting go in a new situation. I was thinking about what it’s like to start something new. I’ve done a lot of that in the past year. I was thinking about the risks, the feeling of plummeting through the air, or the more gentle floating toward the earth.
The tree of life pushes us out of our comforting nests and drops us from the high branches of home and into the cruel hands of gravity. Only one way to go . . . down. Down to the earth to die. Cheerful, huh?
On my walk I was searching the path for acorns. Huge caps and bare fruit were flung along the way. But no whole acorns with caps were to be found that day. No. Decomposition had begun. The dying season was everywhere at my feet.
It struck me as ironic that Advent is a season of new birth, yet it comes at a time when the earth is dying all around us (in our hemisphere at least). But then that’s the paradox in it.
Dying and giving birth. Growing up and lying dormant. Falling in love and feeling the pain of love lost. Watching a child grow and grieving the stage she leaves behind. Advent’s call for new beginnings is tucked right there in the midst of the dying days of autumn. All of that beautiful falling turns to dying and yet in the dying are the seeds of new beginning. Sounds a little cliche. Yet the paradox is so insistent this time of year. I think it was a grown-up Jesus who said, “give up your life that you might find it.”
So what are you falling into this season? What is being born? And what is dying?
God, this Advent, deliver us from comfortable nests and safe havens high above the earth. Push us into a free-fall that breaks open our hearts, and lands us in your season of new life.
This reflection is the second in an eight-part Advent series. Two entries will be posted each week leading up to Christmas.