We are approaching the midpoint of a season meant to focus on peace and preparation, yet the moment my children get in the van in the school pickup line, they are at each other’s throats. I lose my temper quickly these days, thanks in part to cyclic hormones, in part to the busy-ness of the season, in which every single day brings another note or email from one school, class, or room mother asking for more X, Y, or Z, and in part to flying down the hall five or six times a night to soothe the preschooler for whom a cold signifies the eternal annihilation of all mortal existence.
The news greets me every morning and every hour on the hour with news of how much we proved ourselves not to be “the good guys” in the way we treated our prisoners, with news of protests and violence and name-calling on both sides of every issue, of further proof that none of us, myself or anyone else, is sufficiently well-informed to be certain that our opinion on the issues at hand is undisputably and irrevocably “right”…although we all treat them as if they are. My Facebook feed fills up with tirades and rhetoric that denies all possible rational disagreement. People go on national TV and call others “stupid,” and elected officials return the favor with pleasure.
And it feels to me that this Advent, no one is even making an effort to pull back, to breathe, to seek the cool breath of the Spirit that could guide us through this mine field of real problems. We have this bizarre parallel existence going on: the one filled with shopping lists and office/school parties and the one in which we edit our intake of the news in order to confirm what we already believe–to ensure that we will never, ever have to consider that the other side might have a rational argument, too.
I have no pithy wisdom to wrap up this litany. If I say I grieve over it, I sound holier-than-thou, and it’s eminently clear to me from my own short fuse that while I stay out of the public debates, I am as culpable as anyone else.
I suppose, then, that this is my call into the darkness, a call for self-examination, and for change. For conversion, as we ostensibly prepare for the coming of God made human.