Advent Meditations from La Vida: Walking with Presence

In this challenging holiday season, the La Vida Center for Outdoor Education and Leadership team has encountered encouragement, joy, curiosity and hope. As a result of these experiences, they present four Advent devotionals composed by members of the core office staff. Register to receive La Vida’s Advent devotionals via email >

By Sam Craig, La Vida Director of Adventure Pursuits and Rock Gym Manager

“Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that.”
Galatians 6:4–5 (MSG)

It’s 6 a.m. and still dark. The floorboards creak beneath my feet as I sit up and turn off the alarm. I wander downstairs to make coffee and head out the door. The air is cool and all is quiet. I pause and take a sip of coffee. I breathe in and then out. I let my feet carry me on familiar paths through town and to the local park. As my feet wander, so do my thoughts. In these early moments I try to ease myself—body, mind and spirit into another day.

I have been in a strange season these past few months, which is probably an understatement for 2020. Throughout it, I have found that these morning walks ground me and thus my commitment to them has been more consistent than ever before.

Lately during my morning wanders, I’ve found myself thinking of these verses from Galatians. I’ve come to see them as a reminder to pause and take a thoughtful look around me, to take a look inward. Many times this leads me to ask myself, “Who am I? What is the work that I have been given?”

It can be easy to get caught up into our current season. 2020 has held for us varying degrees of intensity around work commitments, family responsibilities, stress, grief but also new beginnings. It’s easy to lose track of where we are and who we are in the midst of rapidly changing seasons. 

The Book of Common Prayer: A Liturgy of Ordinary Radicals says, “Advent is the season when we remember that Jesus put on flesh and moved into the neighborhood” (pg. 40). In the stories of Jesus, we see that he meets people where they are and often in scandalous ways. People are healed, a movement begins and hope is renewed. All because Jesus found us and met us.

I often orient my life around self-improvement. My prayers consist of “if only.” If only I had ______, then I could really love God. If only I were ______, then I would be able to participate in God’s redemptive activity. But what if I reflected on something different for this season? What if I created space to find myself—the way God finds me and comes to be with me—within this Advent season?

Jesus entered an unstable world. And yet his presence, his with-ness, transformed it. Can God do the same work in me? Through me?  This advent season, I’m meditating on who I am and the work I have been given. Amidst a strange and bizarre time, a short walk keeps me on the greater journey of allowing Jesus to enter into my world.

Discussion questions

  • What new practices have brought you joy this year?
  • What is the work God has given you to do each day?
  • What “if only ______” prayers or thoughts do you find yourself facing? What would it look like to focus instead on finding yourself as God finds you?
  • What about your world feels unstable right now? What does it look like to sense God’s presence in the midst of instability?