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I sit at my desk, adding the final touches to the November edition of the parish magazine.  I’ve had to add, this month, unusually, an extra sheet, an extra four pages.  I’ve got stuff on ‘iris folding’, the Mothers’ Union, a Body Shop party, Webb Ivory, an interview with a parishioner by the youth club, fundraising news, stuff from the Cubs, Beavers and Brownies, pictures of the Duck Race, information on Parish Share, a report on a bell ringing competition, and another from the lunchtime fellowship.  There’s the Parish Registers bit, the Calendar, and the Rota.  Even with the extra pages, I’ve had to drop the readings for November, and no room to the Christian Aid figures for the local churches.   All are packed in, some are crowded out!

In some respects this is good—a reflection, perhaps, of an active, busy, wide-ranging parish.  A draft of the magazine lies on the desk before me: 19 crowded pages, and a single blank one.  My temptation is to leave it blank!

We so often fill our lives with all sorts of stuff; our heads and our hearts, too.  Filled with this and that, packed in, each competing with others for time and attention.  Space is crowded out, silence is chased away by clamour, being is ousted by doing.

Meister Eckhart, a 13th/14th century German Dominican spiritual writer, wrote:  “There is nothing so much like God than silence”.  Life needs within it a measure of space, of silence, of ‘being’ (rather than ‘doing’).  We all need it.  Silence and space are the lungs of the Spirit; without it we suffocate, we drown.

Advent begins at the end of November, one of the two ‘preparation’ seasons of the church.  Within the hustle and bustle of the run-up to Christmas, we need to make some space for the Christ Child to come into our lives, some small crib-sized space, so that, when he knocks, we have more to say than: ‘Sorry, no room within’.

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