by Jen Collins
“Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy. For waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water; the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp, the grass shall become reeds and rushes.” (Isaiah 35:5-7)
What type of conversations are you having this season?
It is an adventure in our house most nights trying to juggle evening Zoom calls, whipping up a dinner that everyone will eat, and balancing kid and pet duty. There are five of us in our house: two adults, two kids and a canine. So, there are even nights we barely see each other until bedtime, and that might just be seeing the other person already asleep. In all the busyness of our lives, there are still moments! Those might be my favorite, even for this enthusiastic extrovert.
The nighttime ritual we strive to practice in our house is to bless, read and rest.
Bless: “Jesus loves you and so do I” Add a cross on each other’s forehead
Read: We have tried to explore various genres but also try introducing a faith-focused story too. (Frolic or Jesus storybook Bibles, Spark Frolic Board Books, Linsey Davis books)
Recently it took a while to get to the “Rest” stage of our ritual. It was my turn to read books with our seven-year-old. We got her snuggled in for the night having marked our foreheads, and chose three to four short stories to read. Two of the three steps in our ritual were complete–or so I thought. In the middle of reading about Jesus’ birth story (a request), my little had forgotten whether it was Easter or Christmas that happens in the wintertime. I chuckled, “That’d be Christmas, but we get ready for Christmas in Advent.”
“How do you spell that mom?” she inquired. “A-D-V-E-N-T, Advent” I responded.
I started reading again. However, this silent night of listening to me read was about to be anything but silent but filled with curious conversation. About every few sentences into the story there was a question.
“Do angels really exist? If they fly, how big are their wings or do they just appear like magic?”
“Mary was a teenager?”
“Is riding a donkey like riding a horse?”
“Is an Inn like a hotel?
“Couldn’t Mary bounce on a ball to help her like you did before my sister arrived?”
“Why couldn’t they take Mary to a hospital?”
“Jesus really is God? How does that work?”
“What is it like in heaven?”
“Why do we have to wait so much?”
What conversations are awaiting you?
In this season, what type of conversations are awaiting you?
Life is lived through conversation. No matter your age, communicating is as essential as water and food. Conversations await. There can be such a sacredness to the exchanges we have with one another. I wonder, in a season surrounded by themes of waiting, are we able to allow ourselves to be in motion?
As I hear the prophet Isaiah speak, “in the days to come…” A candid hope, a vision for beloved community to truly exist. “…nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord…Be strong, do not fear! Here is your God.” (Isaiah 2:2, 35:4)
Being in motion during our times of waiting isn’t something to be feared, ignored or a time to disengage. What if it is an opportunity to walk in the light with the people we meet? Having lived in so many liminal spaces over the past few years has shown me the goodness of awaiting conversation. Those unexpected conversations have brought me a deeper, intentional connection with my daughter, partner and community.
The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “People fail to get along because they fear each other, they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they have not communicated with each other.”
As you listen deeply, maybe hopes and fears will be shared, or might you stumble upon unpacking theological and eschatological questions with a seven-year-old? Whatever conversations you have within this season and beyond, I pray that they draw us deeply into ourselves and more profoundly into the world.
O God of connection, may we come to accept the invitation to immerse ourselves in conversation. May the conversations that find us create spaces of curiosity and connection. May the places and spaces we encounter one another bring empathy, healing, and wholeness. In Jesus’ name, Emmanuel – God with us, keep guiding us to be people in motion even in our seasons of waiting. Amen.
Jen Collins (she/ her) serves as an ELCA Pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church in North Minneapolis within the Twin Cities area. She has been a Minnesota resident for the past 12 years, living with her spouse, two kiddos and dog, Wembley. Having grown up in the southwest in Albuquerque, New Mexico, she carries her Latin heritage and love of Green Chiles with her. Jen has served as a Pastor for 7.5 years in the ELCA and finds it a core tenet of her ministry to work with a racial equity lens, helping people discover their human potential as we strive for the common good because God created us to do good work that empowers, inspires and transforms.