In the beginning . . .
It was a beautiful, frigid, January day in the second week of my new adventure as, at that time, the Bishop-elect of Minnesota. I was attending my first Council meeting and that was, without question, an adventure. After a morning session of business-related items, the afternoon offered an opportunity for the Bishop-elect and the Council to get to know each other.
As I prepared for this time, the image that came to mind to start our time was one of my favorite comic strips, Calvin and Hobbes. It was, in fact, I believe the last comic strip Bill Watterson did of Calvin and Hobbes. Beautiful and and profound in its simplicity, all the drawing detailed was Calvin and Hobbs standing atop a freshly snow laden sledding hill, with Calvin exclaiming,
“Wow, it really snowed last night! Isn’t it wonderful?”
Hobbes responds, “Everything familiar has disappeared! The world looks brand-new!”
“A new year…a fresh clean start!” replies Calvin.
Hobbes goes on to say, “It’s like having a big white sheet of paper to draw on!”
“A day of full of possibilities!” Calvin exclaims, and then goes on to say, “It’s a magical world, Hobbes, Ol Buddy . . .”
And off they sled down the untouched snow as Calvin shouts,”Let’s go exploring!”
This image has become quite iconic for me, and especially so at the beginning of Advent—the beginning of our liturgical year. For me, it is a season to once again climb up to the top of the sledding hill and look at all of the fresh snow—fresh possibilities for the coming journey of Advent through Pentecost. A fresh start is at hand, fresh snow abounds, the invitations and opportunities for possibilities are ready for exploring.
My prayer for all of us as we begin to lean into Advent, lean into a new liturgical year, is that we will open ourselves to a new, blank sheet of paper to draw our journey with Jesus. And as we prepare to do so, there may be no better piece of our sacred story to reflect on than the opening of the Gospel according to John:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” John 1: 1-5