Aldon Hynes's blog

Advent Question of the Day: Gratitude

It has been another long day, topped off with yet another mass shooting in the United States. My wife is fighting a sinus infection, and the dining room table has been taken over by Christmas crafts projects.

I get home to a makeshift dinner. We eat around the living room table and talk about the news. We take a break to try and lure the cat which has slipped outside, back in. I try to think about the question of the day and write. “What makes you feel grateful?”

Recently, I was at a meeting where a doctor from Nigeria spoke about going on a mission to a poorer part of Nigeria. She talked about how she had thought she was poor until she went on the mission.

So, in spite of the hard day, my wife’s sinus infection, the wayward cat, things are actually really good. What makes me feel grateful? All the little things of life that are so easily taken for granted,

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Advent: Who helped?

Today’s Advent question was, “Who helped you to do something today?” My first thought was along the lines of someone helping an old lady across the street. I was brought up on good old fashioned New England self-reliance. People don’t help me. I help other people. Yet that isn’t the message of Advent.

Advent, the time that we wait for the Savior for the one who will do something for us when he comes. But what about now? The question helped me think more about who I am, about our interconnectedness. Laura Darling helped me do that thinking today through her post on the Confirm not Conform blog. Bishop Laura Ahrens helped me start thinking about this by sharing a link to the blog on Facebook.

I thought about who has helped me do something today from another angle as I drove to work. How did I know how to drive? My mother taught me to drive years ago. It is something I do just about every day. Who helped me to do something today? She did.

This morning, I read the lectionary for today, the feast of Nicholas Ferrar. Ferrar was an ordained deacon in the Church of England. He lost much of his family wealth in the Virginia Company but later published the poems of George Herbert. Ferrar did something that helped me do something today. He published the works of Herbert, and I read some of Herbert’s poetry today.

We are all interconnected, across time, across space.

BLest Order, which in power dost so excell,
That with th’ one hand thou liftest to the sky,
And with the other throwest down to hell
In thy just censures; fain would I draw nigh,
Fain put thee on, exchanging my lay-sword
For that of th’ holy Word.

But thou art fire, sacred and hallow’d fire;
And I but earth and clay: should I presume
To wear thy habit, the severe attire
My slender compositions might consume.
I am both foul and brittle; much unfit
To deal in holy Writ.

Yet have I often seen, by cunning hand
And force of fire, what curious things are made
Of wretched earth. Where once I scorn’d to stand,
That earth is fitted by the fire and trade
Of skilfull artists, for the boards of those
Who make the bravest shows….

From Herbert’s The Priesthood, published in 1633 by Ferrar.

So, I turn the question to you,

“Who helped you to do something today?”

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Moving from #DigiWriMo into Advent

Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit. DigiWriMo comes to an end and a new adventure begins. I had planned to write much more during Digital Writing Month. I had hoped to be interacting with what people were writing on other blogs. It started off okay, but the other blogs participating in DigiWriMo headed off in discussions of audio and visual content, which wasn’t a topic I was interested in writing about, so I drifted away.

This month is Advent, and I have a few hopes for my digital writing this month. One goal is to write a poem each week tied to the lectionary. I posted my first poem last week. A second goal is to write daily based on the Question A Day Advent calendar. To yesterday’s question, I posted a poem. Today, I will keep my eyes open for who has helped me with something, and write about that. I have one idea in mind, but I’ll see what the day brings.

I would like to bring some of the ideas from DigiWriMo over to my Advent musings. Are others posting blog posts about Advent? Are others following the Question A Day Advent calendar? What else should I be reading or writing about?

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Morning Shower

By paying attention
to what I notice today
I become more observant.

The sparkle of the drops of water
splashing from the shower head.
The echo
of my early morning
The pressure of my hands
as they massaged the shampoo
onto my scalp.
The shampoo’s fragrance.
The broken pieces
of old bath toys
strewn around the tub.

It’s just another Monday
that will be completely different
by paying attention
to what I notice today

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The ADVENTure Continues

Recently, I saw a post on Facebook saying something like, “You can’t have an adventure without advent”, and I thought about my spiritual adventure, and what is in store for me this year.

Advent: that time in the Christian calendar when people await expectantly the coming of Christ, a time of preparation for the coming of a long expected guest. It starts today, in the middle of the holiday shopping season. For those all concerned about keeping Christ in Christmas, I suggest a good starting point is keeping a holy advent, quietly expecting the coming of something greater than various holiday cards and gifts.

I am expecting to receive a very special gift in the next few weeks, not on Christmas Day, not even during the season of Christmas, but during Epiphany. I am expecting a small group of friends to gather and give me important epiphanies. I do not yet know what these epiphanies will be.

This past year, I had a strong sense of God calling me to step up my game, to find new ways of proclaiming God’s love to all. I have spoken with my priest about it. Together with my priest, we’ve spoken with the Bishop and the Dean of Formation, and the Dean of Formation suggested that my priest arrange for this gift to be given to me.

The gift will come through a process in the Episcopal Church called a discernment committee. A discernment committee is a small group of people that meet regular over a period of months to help a person better discern what God is calling that person to. It is part of the process of discerning whether or not ordination as a priest is part of that calling.

The Discernment Manual of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut starts off

Jesus calls each of us without exception, and keeps on calling and inviting us at every moment of every day into a deeper and deeper union with him. He eagerly waits for us to say “yes” to his invitation to join him in his mission. Sometimes, his invitation to come with him wherever he leads comes as a complete surprise, like waking up and discovering that life has become exhilarating and fraught with meaning and urgency to share his life and love with everyone we meet. Sometimes his invitation to serve him and discover who he is unfolds slowly over time, like a slowly ripening fruit. God knows what each of us needs. He gets our attention in just the right way in order to call us to our ultimate joy and wholeness, and it doesn’t always go as we expect or plan. When we say “yes” to Jesus, we give up our own control and let God be in charge.

Later on it provides some helpful guidelines for the discernment committee:

"Try on" Just like shopping for clothes, try on new ideas. You don’t have to own them and you will like[ly] learn something.

I must admit, I hate shopping for clothes, so the metaphor may not be perfect, yet I also recognize it may be challenging for me to try on various new spiritual clothes as well.

I do not yet know what I will end up with at the end of the process, but I still have time before the discernment committee starts meeting. Advent is a time of expectation. I am expecting Jesus to come into my life in new ways this liturgical year. Yet it is a time of waiting and preparation, so I study and pray.

Another post on Facebook that recently caught my attention was a cartoon showing a man reading a letter, saying to his wife, “It’s from the church: I’m being called up to active duty”. This really resonated to me. It feels like this is the year that I get called up to a new level of active duty in my faith. It is a year that we should all be called up to a new level of active duty in our own beliefs.

I hope to share more about this ADVENTure over the coming months, and that my posts about this journey will help others in their journey.

Buen Camino

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