In my continued efforts to prepare for tiny house living, I recently cleaned out my CD shelves in the living room. The only CD player I have is in my car so I decided to box up the discs for the used book store. I know myself well enough, however, to pack things without looking at each item. That practice typically sends me on a long and winding journey through sentimental memories–ain’t nobody got time for that!
But as I lifted a handful of the square cases off the shelf, one dropped onto the floor. I picked it up, noticing it was the Sue Monk Kidd audio book Firstlight that I’d purchased years ago. Unopened, it had sat there holding space on my shelf. Now, I thought, it could do the same at someone else’s home.
The Spirit thought differently.
The audiobook wouldn’t fit into the last box so it sat knowingly on top of the other cases. “You’ll be back,” it seemed to whisper.
I remembered that I’d be making a 3-hour drive to Greensboro for my daughter’s concert on Sunday so I thought, “What the heck–it can be my meditation time.” I picked up the audiobook and set it on the counter.
I will not spoil the book for you as it is worth the read or listen. It is a collection of Sue Monk Kidd’s early essays and stories organized by themes. And when the reader got to the section on “availability,” the Spirit nudged me a bit in that I-told-you-so kind of way.
Sue Monk Kidd tells the story of being stranded in the ATL airport as she was trying to get home in an ice storm. With family in the area, she took a train took the suburbs of Atlanta to settle in for the duration.
On this train, a woman sat across from her. As people exited at each stop, Sue Monk Kidd eventually found herself alone with this woman. She briefly made eye contact with her and noticed she was crying and looking directly at the author. Not wanting to engage and unsure what to do, Sue Monk Kidd neither spoke to her or offered reassurance.
As she waited out the weather over the weekend, that woman haunted her. After considerable discernment, she realized that she had not been making herself fully available to people. In her words, she had “attention deficit disorder of the soul.”
Her resolution? To take on “mindful and unrestrained availability” as a practice. Mindful as in being aware or intentional, and unrestrained as in without judgment or agenda. In other words, how Jesus lived his life in the presence of others.
As we enter the time of Advent, a time of preparation and expectation, may we avoid the “attention deficit disorder of the soul” that this season can bring–buying the right gifts, preparing the best food, attending the numerous parties.
May we truly focus on what this season has to offer our spirits–a greater understanding of hope, love, joy and peace. May we practice mindful and unrestrained availability for ourselves, for others, and for God as we wait for the coming a little babe who brought life and light into our world.