The imagery of this reading invites us to a shift of perspective, away from ourselves and toward God, especially where we have grown faint or weary, where we have staggered and fallen. Can we hear God’s words through Isaiah speaking to us? “Lift up your eyes on high and see who has created these things!” See the One who comes to you, whose love and power brings hope and strength and makes us soar as with eagles’ wings.
I find these themes beautifully expressed in a poem by Denise Levertov that really speaks to me in these Advent days. It’s called “Primary Wonder.” Maybe it will speak to you as well.
Days pass when I forget the mystery.
Problems insoluble and problems offering
their own ignored solutions
jostle for my attention, they crowd its antechamber
along with a host of diversions, my courtiers, wearing
their colored clothes; cap and bells.
once more the quiet mystery
is present to me, the throng’s clamor
recedes: the mystery
that there is anything, anything at all,
let alone cosmos, joy, memory, everything,
rather than void: and that, O Lord,
Creator, Hallowed One, You still,
hour by hour sustain it.*
The God who comes to us in Jesus is the Creator and Sustainer of all that is, the One whose very being and power is the opposite of void and death, the one whose creative power, bringing about life and healing, never stops, but sustains and renews us, hour by hour. Especially in those places where we may be tempted to give up because we think that everything depends on us, we are invited to remember that the divine “power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine” (Eph 3:20).
Perhaps this week God might find a way of lifting up our eyes, drawing them away from all the problems—and less important—distractions that demand our attention, and helping us to see or sense something of God’s mysterious presence in nature, in the world around us. Maybe God can stir our memories to recall experiences of joy that have blessed us with new hope, by freeing us from the feeling of being trapped and overwhelmed. Or to see the faces of persons in whom we have experienced something of God’s coming and presence. Why not ask God for this great gift? Why not set aside some time each day to find out how it might be given? Advent invites us to a kind of holy remembering that gives us new vision, fills us with joy and gratitude, and frees us to engage the challenges and problems of our world with hope.
*from a collection of her poems called The Stream and the Sapphire.