Preparing a Way for the Lord

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash of frosty pathway

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

On the Second Sunday of Advent we hear the Lord’s call to comfort his people, and Isaiah’s answering call to prepare a way for him in our hearts (cf Isaiah 40). Then Mark’s Gospel opens with the figure of John the Baptist in the wilderness, quoting the prophet and plunging us into the drama of welcoming the Messaiah into the most secret parts of our being (cf Mark 1. 1–8). Surely we are in a dry and dusty desert, under searing skies, contemplating the stoniness of our own hearts? Perhaps we are, but for those of us in northern Europe the illustration above may resonate a little more than some romantic image of a desert we have never personally experienced — our hearts may be frosty, tangled, fenced in. Without pressing the analogy to absurdity, it is easy to see there are many ways of avoiding God, of refusing to engage while all the time preserving our chosen sense of self. Advent is a time of stripping ourselves of our defences, of allowing God to work in and on us. There is nothing romantic about that. The barriers we put up against God have to be taken down. It may be painful, but it is also liberating and a great joy.

One reader has expressed disappointment that I’m not posting every day during Advent. I’m having chemotherapy and my brain cells are ‘socially distancing’ at present. But I’ll write when I feel I can.


9 thoughts on “Preparing a Way for the Lord”

  1. I am sure that one person says something for all of us. It is because you inspire and demonstrate love. Thank you. You must take care of you. God bless you.

  2. Ah bless you Sister. I feel sad & empathise with your cancer, chemo & ‘socially distanced brain cells’. You are in my husband and my prayers. I’m glad you don’t feel pressured to post daily. You must do what you need to care for yourself.

    Thank you for another thought provoking reflection today. You must’ve read my thoughts as your words express what’s happening in my heart & prayer to God. Take care. Love & Blessings Sophie

  3. It is quite remarkable that you are able to do so much,what with sorting out the computer, the drains, the courtyard, the Tesco delivery slot in the middle of the night…I could go on but I’m already exhausted just listing these!

  4. love and prayers winging their way from Wantage Sister Catherine. Glad you are posting when you can because your posts are gifts to us.

  5. I so often find your words an inspiration, but today it is the accompanying image that speaks to me. Living in the northern hemisphere and hearing at this time of year about John the Baptist in the desert can feel so remote from our experience. Seeing a frosty path has helped me think about the barriers I put up to avoid God’s voice, one of which is the desire to be comfortable rather than challenged. I hate the cold and would rather be cosy by the fire, as I am just now!

  6. Dear Dame Catherine,

    Thank you for this teaching and encouragement to lead a holy Advent. Living in the beautiful Sonoran Desert makes me think differently about desert imagery. Yes, harshness, but also beauty.

    Also praying for you as you experience chemotherapy.

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