Some moments in life are just funny. They stand out. They don’t follow the usual pattern. These moments catch us off guard and command our attention. They force a response.
I had one of those moments last week. As I was approaching my daughter’s house, I noticed a helmeted Santa riding his bicycle in front of my car. (See the picture.) This struck me as very funny. It didn’t follow the usual pattern of my drive to my daughter’s house. It caught me off guard and drew me in. My response was a smile and a click of my phone camera.
The moment I turned the corner and saw Santa, I had a momentary feeling of lightness, surprise, and joy. Even now when I look at the picture, it makes me laugh and allows me to conjure up that moment of surprise again. Those moments are so rare but so powerful. They have the power to move us from our very calculated thoughts of what to expect, to a place of momentary blissful confusion. My mind registered something confusing but at the same time it registered joy. All in a millisecond.
A place of blissful confusion best describes my spiritual life. Over the years, I have spent many hours in small faith-sharing groups where we have deep and rich conversations about all aspects of our faith, only to come away still confused about a lot of things, but feeling ok about that. Feeling blissful in the confusion. Because at the very heart of it all is God. And I know God wants more than anything for us to know him. God reveals himself to us and smiles on our efforts to recognize and believe. It’s those darn calculated thoughts that get in the way.
Our calculated thoughts might get us through our daily lives, but they cause a lot of trouble in our spiritual lives. We have to remain open to surprises, open to revelations coming from places we would never expect, open to the moments when life as we see it doesn’t make sense. Those moments bring us closer to God.
This time of year, my thoughts often go to Mary, the mother of Jesus. Imagine how surprised she was to find out she was pregnant and that her baby was to be the Son of God. That day the angel Gabriel showed up to announce the conception of Jesus didn’t exactly follow the usual pattern of days for Mary. It was a moment that stood out, captured her attention alright, and commanded a response. By grace she was open to this mystery. Blissful in her confusion as we see in the beautiful words of her prayer of praise, The Magnificat. (Luke 1:46-55)
As we prepare this coming week for the birth of Jesus, look to Mary as a model of blissful confusion. Mirror her ability to take in the happenings around her, as confusing as they may be, with a lightness, a trust in the surprises and a joy knowing it’s all in God’s hands.
And let’s all pray Santa’s tires don’t go flat.