An Advent Encounter

An Advent Encounter December 10, 2015

My Advent Encounter
by: Christopher Johnson

Early in the year 2000, a generally unremarkable time while living in an Apartment complex in Raleigh North Carolina was made memorable by a huge snow storm. Two feet of snow dropped on us in one night. While North Carolina definitely gets more snow than most of my native South Carolina, no one was prepared for this much snow coming this fast. The city was frozen over and I wasn’t going to be going to work for several days leaving me with plenty of time to think big thoughts without much interruption. At 22 years old, big thoughts were not first and foremost on my mind which makes what I decided to do this snowy day more profound than I intended.

I wasn’t a particularly religious young man but knew there was something about contemplation that drew me. I wasn’t really interested in pursuing it, however, because that would mean that I would have to take time to be still instead of raging quietly into the night. The contemplative life would have to wait. The snow, however, was so pretty and so I wandered out into it right up to the edge of a little pond in our complex. Maybe it was the beauty of the moment which Balthasar assures us draws us closer to the Mystery or maybe I was just cold. Who knows?  But I paused and just listened. The snow and ice made a light hiss sound that when combined with the whoosh of the wind was hypnotic.

I can not recall if I believed in God back then but I was aware of “the divine” at least in the abstract and this moment was somehow drawing me closer to it. It’s here that I want to return to this advent season. Advent is about expectation for something divine to incarnate and even a loud-mouthed kid like myself can have what I like to call an advent encounter. In this case, I had enough exposure to contemplation to allow myself to be immersed, to have contact with Something and that initial encounter drove me to want more. Creation itself was opening me up to the Creator and like Saint Augustine my heart would be restless until it rested in that Creator. Like the Advent season, I was waiting for what would come next. Little did I know that three short years later, I would enter into Holy Mother Church.

The funny thing about Advent is that the “encounter” is often given to us in moments we aren’t prepared for or, more likely, unable to notice. As we prepare for the Christmas season my question for all of us is this:  when was your Advent encounter?

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