Advent is a time of promise: A new thing is about to happen. Advent is a time of waiting: Waiting for mountains to be brought low and crooked places made straight. Advent is a time of movement: Movement forward not backward. Advent is special kairos time. Hallmark TV movies and old films like “Miracle on 34th Street” and “It’s A Wonderful Life” suggest that Christmas is a miraculous time. In The Mood of Christmas, Howard Thurman wrote, “when we think of Christmas, let us think of it as a time when we remember the graces of life”….let us “seize upon the atmosphere created during this period, to let it tutor our own spirits in kindness and imaginative sympathy.”
One of the rarest “graces of life” in our time is “The Miracle of Dialogue,” the title of a book written by Reuel L.Howe years ago. What a miracle it would be if we could (in our family, in our community, in our society, and in the political realm) talk and listen to each other. “When dialogue stops, love dies and resentment and hate are born.” Real dialogue is a reciprocal relationship in which each party or person “experiences the other side” so that each informs and learns. In true dialogue there is a mutual responsibility to listen and hear. Just listening and hearing each other can release us from the prisons of our prejudices, defenses and vulnerability (the barriers that keep us apart). The fruits of dialogue would create all kinds of other miracles that we can’t even begin to imagine. Think how it would be if we were listening, hearing, and talking to each other!
Is God going to do new things this Advent? If so, I pray that among those “new things” we might be given one of the essential graces of life, the miracle of dialogue, a grace we have abandoned almost completely in our time.