Don’t know what I want because I don’t know what I have – Friday, 2nd week of Advent Isaiah48:17-19/Matthew11:16-19
“We played the flute and you and you did not dance, we wailed and you did not mourn”
We live in a world that pushes us to be constantly dissatisfied with what we have and with who we are. This dissatisfaction is not thrown in your face but it grows under your skin rather subtly. From our phones to our holidays to the furniture in our home, life has been a constant push towards being dissatisfied; and that dissatisfaction grows like a cancer.
At one time snail mail did the job. We licked stamps and posted letters. Then speed got to us and we had the telex and telegram. All this was too slow for us and so we soon slipped into the world of email. Then it was instant and short messaging services (SMS) and now all of that is given to us with privacy and speed in the form of WhatsApp. Then, out to the blue, people are tired of the fast and furious, the impersonal and technical and want good old snail mail back with its pretty envelopes and fancy stationery.
The dissatisfaction with all things begins in the heart. A fickle heart leads to a fickle foot loose and fancy-free mind. A dissatisfied heart may not be symptomatic of an ungrateful heart but more a heart that does not know what it wants because it has never reflected on what it has. Let’s take children for example; they never really know what they want and that’s not because they are ungrateful but because they can’t make up their mind; they don’t have settled minds. Their minds have to be trained. Standing at a bakery filled with goodies, they may want an entire box of chocolates and the blue berry muffins and the chocolate chip cookies. Mummy knows that giving in to all that they want will give them a stomach ache and so mummy trains the child to choose and be happy with just one goody from a range of good things.
Our hearts need to be trained to be satisfied with what we have. Jesus bemoans the fickleness of the people of his time. They were dissatisfied with even the options of a spiritual life. Jesus came and John the Baptist came. They both had different approaches to a spiritual life. John seemed a bit like a loner, Jesus fit into the crowd. John fasted for the coming of the bridegroom, Jesus was the bridegroom and so he feasted. John’s cry was for penitence, Jesus’ calling was to love. John had the insects and animals of the desert as his companions, Jesus sat with tax collectors and sinners in the heart of the city.
Spirituality can’t be straight jacketed. There are some who think that spirituality is sadness personified; good for you! There are those who want to be happy and clappy; and that’s good too. Yet, the Bible tells us there is a time and season for things. The Church trains our heart to have a well-rounded spirituality; one that calls for you to be still and reflect and one that calls for loud acclamations of ‘glory to God.’
The season of Advent calls us to be sober minded and focus on the preparation for the second coming of Christ. Yet, on Christmas day you are called to put on a smile to dance and be happy and don’t drag your Lenten face, which you did not get over, into the Christmas morning mass or even worse at the lunch table. There is a time and season for everything; this is the advent season.
And just as there are seasons that shape our spirituality there are groups in the Church whose spiritual disciplines reflect a personal choice. Charismatics will wave their hands and clap for joy while monastics may chant in low voices and slip into the solitude of a church corner. Be respectful of all. If you choose to be a monastic make sure it’s in a monastery and not at a Sunday community mass.