O Oriens: Where am I pointed?

Today’s ‘O Antiphon’ addresses Christ as the Morning Star (alternately, the Rising Sun), reminding us that Jesus is the Light of the World, shining into the darkness, and that he is the one for whom we’re patiently waiting, just as those in vigil await the sunrise in the East.

O Morning Star, splendour of light eternal and sun of righteousness: Come and enlighten those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.

What struck me most about this was not the theme of light (which is surprising since it’s one of my favorite metaphors), but rather how that language of light connects with that of navigation and orienteering. It’s the light that tells us where we are and orients us within our surroundings. And so the prayer prodded me to ask myself “Where way am I pointed?”

This reminded me of one of my favorite simple discernment practices: the Life Compass exercise. Using the cardinal directions as a guide it asks:

  • What is my true North? What is the fundamental value that guides my decisions?
  • What is my East? What new is coming up for me on the horizon?
  • What is my South? Where is my warmth and joy coming from? And,
  • What is my West? What is ending and passing away in my life?

Once we figure out our directions, we can better figure out how our thoughts, actions, and intentions are oriented with respect to them. Am I spending too much time thinking about what needs to move on? Am I being distracted by (or alternately, ignoring) what is bringing me pleasure? Is my life aligned with my ‘North Star’? And so on.

This feels like a great time of year to engage with this practice. Advent is, after all, a time of preparation, of waiting, and watching. What better time to touch base and make sure we’re preparing the right things, waiting on what is good, and watching the right places. For he will come as a thief in the night. Blessed are those who are watching.

O Morning Star, splendour of light eternal and sun of righteousness: Come and enlighten those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.

Amen.

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