The Irrational Season

Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment.



But Mary was much perplexed.

– The Gospel of Luke 1:29

Alice laughed: “There’s no use trying,” she said, “one can’t believe impossible things.”  “I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen.  “When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day.  Why sometimes I’d believe as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”  

– Alice in Wonderland

I live across the street from the police station, in Berkeley, CA.  Two weeks ago, for a string of nights the, “Black Lives Matter” demonstrations roamed the city.

Each night, the march began peacefully and each night, despite the determined efforts of the demonstration organizers, fringe groups would loot, raid, and destroy storefronts on the route.  With all of this came a disquieting onslaught of helicopters, sirens, beating drums and riot gear, often until 1 and 2 am.  I immediately understood this was to be my empathy training; my turn to peek into the lives of humans around the world whose nervous systems must endure this and so much more.

Paradoxically, for the same number of days I was attempting to find an emotional steadiness amidst the tension of the protests, my partner was working near Lake Tahoe, and sending me photos from his surroundings.

Valentino’s shot of a walk along the North Shore of Lake Tahoe

Valentino’s shot of a walk along the North Shore of Lake Tahoe

The juxtaposition of our different realities was stunning!  And it was all happening during the Christian season of Advent, a time of waiting; a time of anticipating; a time created to ready ourselves for the arrival of Christ and…Peace.

Meanwhile, the lyrics of a beloved circle chant repeat,

Deep down inside of me, there is a fire going on.   Part of me wants to sing about the light; part of me wants to die, die, die!

The human tempest happening on this planet puts me smack in the struggle: sing about the light, or run for cover?  How does God inhabit it all?  War zones to new babies; hurricanes to fields resting fallow; bustling factories and traffic jams to houses of worship filled with prayerful souls…and on, and on the list goes.  The late Madeleine L’Engle called Advent, “the irrational season,” and indeed, it is.

The Solstice and Advent both invite us to pause, to reflect and to wait.  In the cold, frozen dark we are urged to suspend our disbelief, to invite the irrational, to believe that what we most need can come from a source we could never expect if we’re limited by our linear mind.

And so, this season, I invite you to welcome new realities of the most surprising sort.  Entertain the impossible.  Embrace the mystery waiting to be born, from out of the shadows, into the light.  Your light.

Peace, peace and more peace