Sunday, November 29, 2020

Sheltering on the First Day of Advent

Yes, it has been a long time since I long that Blogger asked me for not only one but two ways of verifying that I am who I say I am. However, today is the first day of Advent for 2020 (a year unlike other years), and the first word for #adventword2020 is "tender." I'm not sure that I'll post for every day of Advent, but I have some thoughts on this word (which even include a reference to a book although not one I have read this year in spite of thinking of it often). 

My first thought was "Why tender?" Maybe they were thinking of the Christmas song "Silent Night"? ("Holy infant so tender and mild") Yes, babies are tender; mild? My second thought was my tender arm after getting shots, specifically since I am due soon for my second shot of the shingles vaccine, and my knowledge from the first shot leads me to believe my arm is going to be tender for a week. However, I do not have that tender spot to take a picture of...yet. 

In an effort to understand the word better, I brought out my 1828 dictionary and also took a picture of my very tender Genovese Basil. 

From here on out are my random thoughts about "tender". (Bear with me, I'm out of practice with blog posts.) My arm will be tender after my next shot, but it will be worth it because I saw how my mother suffered from a full blown case of shingles. My basil leaves are tender, but when they are crushed is when the sweet fragrance and taste comes from the spice. Still, when some people are tender and crushed, their spirits, souls, and bodies are quenched and destroyed, so there is a tension between knowing when to be compassionate and when goodness will be released through touching that which is tender. 

I believe the Divine has that balance, and I would even go as far as to say that God "tenderizes" humans far less than some people think. I must write that I have known people who were given tenderness, but I wonder sometimes if a bit of crushing might have led to better outcomes (sort of like a shingles shot) because they wasted the tenderness given to them. 

Basically, I surmise that God is tender toward us because we were given choice. I have not found anyone who has convinced me that love can exist without choice. I picture Stepford Wives. Some are happy (the men?) but there's no love. I picture Brave New World where everyone is soma'd into bliss. There's no love. Love requires choice, and when humans have choices, they can choose to do devastatingly horrible acts. 

And now, dear readers (dear because you're actually reading this!), I'm not quite sure how to end this all Christmas-y. The first Advent candle is said to represent expectation or hope or expectation of hope. My hope is that in following Christ, I can choose a compassionate tender mercy over judgment and be rare in touching tender spots. There's Someone Who does it better than me.