Saturday, December 12, 2015

The Innkeeper

I wish I could slow down.

I wish life as it is allowed me what I so fervently desire: a peaceful, prayerful Advent. I am naturally restless. I am inclined towards deliberate busyness, because I thrive when I am distracted from my anxious thoughts. I overwhelm myself with things I can control to keep from being overwhelmed by things I can't. Every morning I wake up early enough to do a thousand things, and find myself resetting my alarm so I can sleep a little longer, because I am truly exhausted. Every evening I find myself desperate for my bed, and once I'm in it, I don't get up for anything. My bed is the only place in the world where I am not rushing, not plotting, and not doing. My bed is where I go at the end of my endlessly busy days to take solace from the world I've created for myself. My bed is where I let myself relax, because by night time I have no further will to fight the urge to slow down.

There's a song I heard a couple of years ago which resonates with me on a deep level. It's called "Rest," and it's by Jason Gray. It is a reflection offered from the perspective of the Innkeeper, whose life is hectic and fruitless. It recalls the night he met at his door a young couple and had no room for them, except his own bed, which was his. It recounts the yearning for peace and solitude, interrupted by the distant sound of a baby crying. It gives me chills.

It is my life.

A reading of the Gospels may leave us with the impression that we are given little to no information about the Innkeeper in Bethlehem, but I am of the opinion that each of us actually knows the Innkeeper rather intimately and personally. His habits are our habits and his ways are our ways -- because he's us.

Think about it. The God of ages, the God of Israel, the Messiah promised of old, has come to the earth in the flesh! And he is turned away. We have no place for him, in our societies nor in our lives. The best we can offer is a barn in a cave, and we actually think this is an acceptable substitute for room and board. OurDivine  Spouse comes to meet us, and we can't even let him into our beds, let alone our homes. Instead, he finds his repose in the manger where we feed our animals.

Our Savior comes to us in the ultimate gift of generosity, and finds himself wrapped in rags in a barn on a cold, bitter night, while we sleep as soundly as our fears will allow in a world we still surrender to the reign of our anxieties.

I wish I could slow down, but would I? Will I? I have time for Jesus. I just don't use it for Jesus. I have a place for him to stay. I just don't let him stay there.

The Church offers Mass everyday, sometimes multiple times a day depending on the parish. I have access to the sacraments whenever I'm willing to make an appointment. I have several Rosaries. I have prayer cards. I have a Bible.

It's as if the Church comes to my door, ready to give birth to all I've ever wanted and needed, and I turn her away because I don't have room in my schedule.

I wish I could slow down. But the only one between me and my wish is me.

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