From 2001-2003 I attended Buddhist teachings on Tuesday nights. I liked them very much, but after a long day’s work across the bay, I was often very tired by the time I got there. Usually, the Jasmine tea and cookies that were offered revived me, but one night, I was so gone that even that did not work. We did not have our usual teacher, but a very brilliant nun whose soft spoken teaching revealed great clarity of thought. Still, as much as I wanted to, I could not follow a word she said. I just wanted it to be over so that I could go home and go to bed. And then, I was aware that she had paused. I noticed that I was not the only zoned out one in the room. There was silence. And out of that silence came the question which has haunted me ever since, “Don’t you want to be happy all the rest of your days? Don’t you want to find peace beyond your wildest dreams?”
The reason I remember it so well was because at that moment I didn’t care a fig about being happy or finding peace or any of the above. I just wanted to go home and go to bed. It was then that I began to suspect that there might be something terribly skewed about my view of the universe. When I am too exhausted to even feel the glimmer of happiness, perhaps it is time to question what is making me exhausted.
Advent asks us to explore what is making us all so tired. For all its rich end of the world imagery, Advent isn’t itself the end. The days draw short, but there is still time. Indeed, Advent is the very gift of time that, like the nun's teaching, is so hard to receive.