On Adventures

leaving-the-city-22427I've been thinking the last few days about Advent, the Church season leading up towards Christmas, and Adventure, stepping out to discover worlds and people unknown. I'm not a Latin or Greek expert, but I'm making the leap that these two words have the same root and a connected meaning. By simple definition, Advent is about the celebrate arrival of something or someone (in Christmas' case, Jesus). Adventure is about an unpredictable journey. Some of our greatest cultural tales and stories involve an individual's arrival who calls a comfortable person out into a life they'd never dreamed of before. Gandalf's unexpected visit to Bilbo would be one, Obi-Wan Kenobi's rescue of Luke Skywalker would be another. One of my favourite movies in recent year's was Ben Stiller's The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. It's by no means a perfect movie, but I love it. In one scene Walter, played by Stiller, sees a famous photographer (Sean Penn) beckoning him with one finger out from his mundane and ordinary life to something adventurous and meaningful. The Advent of Penn's character triggers the Adventure of Walter Mitty.

One of my favourite pieces of literature is John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress. The book is a 17th century  allegory of faith about a man named Christian (no points for subtlety!) who leaves the ominously-named 'City Called Destruction' in search of 'The Celestial City'. He leaves his family and everything he knows behind after having met 'Evangelist' and realising he can't go on living the way he has anymore.

The season of Advent arrives and challenges us with the story of a child born in a stable during a genocide of all boys under two, who would challenge the structures of oppression, poverty and the status quo so profoundly that the Roman Empire would have no option but the crush him on a cross. The Advent of this child brought such an incredible disruption to the existing system that thousands would lay down their wealth, occupations and relationships to join him on the Adventure.

So it may be for you, and for many of us, that this is an opportunity to stop and wonder how satisfied we are with the world we're living in, the stories we're telling ourselves, and the things that we get up to do in the morning. Is thestatus quo enough? Regardless of what we may each believe we know that we can choose, as usual, to drown the dissonance of our dissatisfaction through consumption, or instead, to look actively for the interruption that will fill us enough with courage to change the behaviours and the attitudes we've kept that hold us in a 'City called Destruction'.

Advent is upon us. An Adventure beckons.