November 29th: Day-dream

The ancient Celts understood all time as having meaning. The time of year helped you know how to behave, how to organize your activities, how to live and love and move in the world.

We’ve lost some of this, what with our inability to unplug and our unwillingness to turn off the lights when it gets dark. There is something special, human even, in living with the cycles of the sun, moon, and stars. The closest I ever got to this kind of rhythm was when I was a camp counselor and, due to the rustic nature of our setting, when the sun went down, we went down. When the sun rose, we would rise.

It was a different way of being in the world.

I find the church season of Advent to be an invitation back into that kind of orientation in spirit, if not in our body. The reading for today from the Gospel of Mark sets the scene:

“In those days, after that suffering, 
 the sun will be darkened,
  and the moon will not give its light,
25and the stars will be falling from heaven,
  and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.” (Mark 13:24)

Indeed the readings that the church provides to start off the season of Advent all begin in chaos, with sun and moon failing and flailing. It’s not surprising, though, when you think about it: for the church Advent is about “beginning” and “birth,” so it makes sense to start in the swirling chaos of the cosmos.

Advent starts in the shadows, Beloved, because most all of light starts in the shadows: the enclosed womb, the enclosed tomb, the seed deep under ground, the miring muck out of which life first crawled…it’s all in the shadows.

So, today, at the outset we have the opportunity to daydream in the shadows. We get to daydream about what kind of world can be birthed if we all take a step back (and, perhaps we have in this pandemic!) to take stock and think a bit.

Coincidentally, the first Sunday of Advent this year is also the feast day of St. Dorothy Day, known to befriend the poor and the outcast. In her daydream, Dorothy saw a world where the distinction between poor and wealthy, “in” and “out,” mentally-ill and mentally-well, were erased.

In the swirling chaotic shadows of this pandemic Advent, could we imagine such a world? Could we live in the rhythm of such a world? Could we orient our lives around such permeable lines of boundless love? Could Dorothy Day’s dream become our reality?

A good addition to your Advent playlist might be this unusual choice from the 60’s, Spanky and Our Gang’s “Give a Damn.” The lyrics feel ever-green to me…

If you’d take the train with me
Uptown, thru the misery
Of ghetto streets in morning light
It’s always night
Take a window seat, put down your Times
You can read between the lines
Just meet the faces that you meet
Beyond the window’s pane

And it might begin to teach you
How to give a damn about your fellow man
And it might begin to teach you
How to give a damn about your fellow man

As the sun decides to set a bit early tonight, take a moment to daydream about what this world could be if you…if all of us…just gave a damn.

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