Posted by: Titus Presler | December 7, 2011

Squinting for Signs: Meditation for Advent II Wednesday

Our lives are full of signs: traffic lights, signatures, winks and nods, frowns and smiles.  Signs point beyond themselves to other realities: a location, a direction, a source, an emotion, a quality of relationship.

A sign may be there, and we can miss it.  Squinting through the windshield on a rainy night, it’s easy to drive right by the street sign we’re looking for.  Sometimes we see signs where there are none.  “Oh, I didn’t mean that at all,” a friend explains when we worry about what we thought was disapproval.  Sometimes we’re oblivious to the obvious.  A colleague might ask, “Didn’t you see the surprise on my face during that meeting?”

We look for signs in some parts of our lives: health, the stock market, a romance.  But we may not think of watching for signs in other parts of our lives, like our prayers and our relationship with God.  For the most part, we don’t see God with our physical eyes or hear God with our physical ears.  So it’s natural and good for us not to jump to conclusions about signs from God.

On the other hand, Jesus encouraged people to watch for signs.  He was frustrated with his opponents when they wanted a sign from heaven. “You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky,” he said, “but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.”  The sign that generation would be given, he said, was the sign of Jonah, meaning Jesus’ prophetic ministry and how it culminated in death and resurrection (Matthew 16:1-4).

So the most important signs may be the ones that are hardest to see, the ones that ground us in the deepest being, that connect us with the movement of God.  We may see signs in the world best when we attend to signs of God within ourselves in the life of prayer.  Every relationship depends on communication, and praying is simply communication with God.

Coming to a still place of prayer in Advent may be the best gift we can give ourselves.  And only God knows what sign God may give us there.

This meditation is excerpted from Titus Presler’s “Alert for Signs: Seeing and Praying through Advent” (Forward Movement Publications).

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