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Advent 2012 Devotional #1: Living in the Present

(December 3rd, 2012) Greetings! As we are officially in the season of Advent (and nothing welcomes you into Advent like 80 degree temperatures), it is time once again for Advent Devotionals! Today’s devotional was written by the wonderful Brittney Luby!  As many of you know, Brittney recently left her post as the Religious and Spiritual Life’s Chapel and Event Coordinator to work with the Peace Corps in Morocco!  Britt and her husband Pete will be leaving this January to embark on what I’m sure will be a phenomenal and life changing experience.  And while we are still grieving the fact that we don’t get to see and work with her every day, we couldn’t be happier for her as she takes this next step on her journey.  She’s truly a remarkable person and one of my dearest and most trusted friends.  Britt is one of those people who can make you smile when you most need it, and who offers you HOPE on days when it seems to be in short supply.  She is so gifted in so many ways!  Who better to write about HOPE this Advent season?  I trust that her words will mean as much to you as they mean to me.
“The very least you can do in your life is figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under its roof.”  
– Barbara Kingsolver, Animal Dreams
I’m not very good at living in the present.  I like to linger in the past, holding on to fond memories and twisting them through my fingers to remind myself over and over again of how good life can be.  Or how terribly sad.  And when I’m not doing that, I’m day-dreaming about the future: bright days and silver nights and endless possibilities of what might be.  The present seems too anxiety-ridden, too busy, too, too, too.  That’s why I like this quote from Barbara Kingsolver so much.   Hope seems like a lofty, future-focused thing, hard to pin down, but Kingsolver demands that we touch it and hold it and settle down with it right now at our kitchen table.
In a few short weeks, my husband and I will be moving to Morocco to serve as Peace Corps volunteers.   Joining the Peace Corps has been a goal of mine for many years, and so I’ve spent countless hours day-dreaming about what it might be like to live and serve in a new community.  It’s auspicious that this move is preceded by Advent, a season of preparation, anticipation, and hope.  Each week as we light another Advent candle, more and more of our time will be spent embracing those that we love instead of working long hours.   More and more of our belongings will make their way to local charities.  Vaccinations and paperwork replace trips to the mall and time lost on the internet.  This next step in our lives is something we have hoped for and imagined for years, and we’ve finally invited it under our roof.
As we live into this adventure that we’ve hoped for for so long, I have to constantly remind myself to try and stay focused on the present.   It’s easy to think about Christmases past: how tricky it is to navigate my divorced family, how much I wish my grandfather was still here to make divinity and creamy fudge.  And it’s exciting to imagine Christmases of the future: how will we celebrate in a Muslim country, and what new traditions will we embrace?  But, right now, I have this Advent, this Christmas.  These hands to hold, these people to hug, these candles to light.
God, we thank you for the gift of hope and for the people in our lives that help us live into that hope.  This Advent, help us be present to the needs of our heart and the needs of others.


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