Sunday, January 14, 2018

Look and Listen — A New Year is Waiting.

Everything is white!

When I look out of my windows it is all I see, a huge expanse of white interspersed with white trees. Most of it is still untrodden (and at -17C who would want to venture out!). It is a clean sheet of white awaiting someone to make an impression in it.

In some ways, newly fallen snow is a bit like January. A whole year stretches in front of one. Untrodden and unmarked. What will be imprinted on it? What direction will steps be taken into it? What choices will be made?

When I open the door, the pugs rush out into the clean, white snow. Full of joy, bounding through snow, spinning in circles, making tunnels with their bodies until cold drives them back into the house. In some ways that is a great way to appreciate January, full of joy, carefree, leaping into a new experience until something calls a halt to it. What a great way to be. Certainly, in part, I want that to be the way I approach life.

Yet, I also want to be a bit more mindful of how I journey through the rest of the year stretching before me. There are a couple of hints in the lectionary readings that stood out to me as I read the texts for this week.

The first one I noted is found in the story of Jesus calling the disciples. It is just three small words in Philip’s conversation with Nathanael (John 1:43-51). Philip approached Nathanael to tell him about Jesus. Nathanael made a remark that was a little distaining. Rather than engage in a dispute or try to justify his position, Philip simply issued an invitation, “Come and see.”

How wise of Philip to respond that way and how wise of Nathanael to take up the invitation.

The second lectionary passage that stood out to me was the story of the boy Samuel (1 Samuel 3:1-10). As the boy lay sleeping he thought he heard the priest calling for him and went to offer his assistance. This happened three times. In the tale, finally, the priest wisely realized it may be God talking and instructed Samuel in how to reply. Samuel took the advice and the next time the voice called, he replied, “Speak for your servant is listening.”

So, as I put these two passages together, I thought they made a great picture of a way to live. A way to proceed into the untrodden part of 2018. A way to make footprints in the snow of this year.

The phrase “come and see” speaks of having eyes wide open to what is before me. Not to be just content to follow someone else, but to want the experience. To take time to look, to look deeply, into what is around. I don’t want to miss the beauty and wonder of nature and creation. I don’t want to fail to notice acts of kindness and generosity in people I meet. In addition, the phrase “speak, your servant is listening” is equally important. I want to take time to hear. I want to listen. I don’t want to miss the subtlety of the sounds and voices around me.

A year is stretching before me. I want to tread it wisely. So, with all the joy I saw in the pugs, I want to take time to look and listen as I journey through the ensuing months.