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Jen Pollock Michel

( author + writer + speaker )

Celebrate Advent: Make room for attention. (Matthew 1:18-25)

The hour between 4 pm and 5 pm can be a noisy one at the Michel household. Kids are hungry. Help is needed with homework. Colin and Andrew tug at sleeves. "Play with me!"

I'm at the center of it all, trying to keep my balance in all the gales of NOISE. Again and again, I remind them that I can only talk to one person at a time, that they each must wait their turn, that patience is learned is just these kinds of moments.

And if the wrestling for my attention that happens within these four walls isn't enough, there's a whole big world out there clamoring for more of me.

At the end of some days, the noise and the demands drive me burrowing deep into some protected place where I don't have to think or decide, where I don't have to do the hard work of paying attention.

This blog was born from that realization.

I realized how easy it had become to pay attention to everyone else's life and words but my own. The landscape of my life was blurring past me, and I was falling asleep.

It was as if I began to realize that God's story comes to us embedded in our stories. Isn't it true that all the grand narratives of the Bible have faces? Abraham, David, Jesus. And while I'm no Mary, purposed with something as cosmically grand as bearing the Son of God, still maybe my story was sacred and worth some attention?

In today's reading, we see the Jesus story from the perspective of Joseph. He hears that Mary's pregnant. He makes plan to sever their engagement. "As he considered these things. . ."

I get the sense that Joseph is paying close attention to his own story in that moment. Replaying conversations he'd recently had with Mary. Considering her claim that she'd been visited by an angel. Choosing how he's going to respond.

And then he gets a visit of his own. In a dream. The angel confirms everything that Mary has told him.

Today's word in our Advent series is consider.

It's easy to drift along half-awake.

It's considerably harder to pay attention.

What would it be like if we, like Joseph, slowed enough to start paying closer attention to the unfolding script of our lives?

What divine moments have we missed in all of our hurry and carelessness?

And what would we gain, we, the keepers of this story, to write it down, to trace its contours, and to tell another?