—by Julian DeShazier

Transcript of the video:

Yesterday was the first day of Advent, the period in the Christian tradition each year when we await the birth of Jesus. That waiting is not merely sitting still, but a deep slowing down, a willingness to sit in the silence of one’s life/the courage to create silence or space for the big questions. The questions that, like this little child, point us to our redemption. To our purpose.

We lit the Candle of Hope and opened up Isaiah 64 and talked about Discernment – the act of deep listening, as a way of tuning in, as a way of anchoring one’s self instead of being swept away. Discernment is not only for folks entering ministry but for people that want to become all that is possible, recognizing that each of our lives is a ministry. We are engaging discernment.

And each day during Advent we’ll have a devotional for you, maybe a video or a reading, or a poem, to aid you in that process. TODAY I want to start with noticing. Because as soon as people hear DISCERNMENT it becomes “what should I do?”

We move to the end of that line, and because we move so fast, what usually happens is we get overwhelmed. There’s SO MUCH, or we feel so far away that it makes our head hurt, our bodies tighten…but I don’t want you to DO anything yet. In fact, discernment done well should make pretty clear what needs to be done (the HOW to do it…another thing) but it all begins with noticing.

And when I use that word – NOTICING – it’s something different that seeing or observing. To NOTICE means that something lingers once we observe it. It stays with us. It asks us to spend a little more time with it. This is not JUDGING. This is not COMMITTING. This is not ACTING. This is the act of noticing.

The wise men see a star and it lingers with them. Eventually they pay enough attention to follow it. Then they find Jesus. But first they have to notice.

Friends – what are you noticing right now? About yourself? About the world? A thing happens: what do you notice about your response? What do you notice about how you exist in the world right now?

That I am…

and remember, NO JUDGMENT. Simply noticing. You will want to say harsh things about yourself. It won’t help you. Take a moment and NOTICE yourself. Take note. And keep this, to begin, about you.

I notice corruption over here and…

Great! What do you note about your response?

It would be great if you took the next few minutes – or found some point later to come back to this – to spend some time jotting down what you notice about yourself. I’ll offer you this prayer in closing:

God, help me – in seeing others, in moving about so fast and taking in so much – to slow down enough to notice myself being alive. Give me courage to sit with what I love and what I am shameful of. Thank you for loving me, and for trusting me with all that love requires. Amen.