Advent… a time to prepare, a time to expect. Being the mother of three sons, I find it natural to experience Advent thinking of the expectation of Mary. I can relate to being pregnant, to the wait and the hope of seeing the face of the life growing inside. I remember preparing the crib, buying the clothes, and sitting in the nursery waiting, filled with wonder and hope. This year though, I feel a different kind of wonder. This year I find myself wondering… What if?
What if this Advent, letting go of expectations, we become the expectation? What if instead of preparing to receive, we prepare to be received?
My father used to always say, “Christmas is for the children.” He wouldn’t allow my mom to gift us socks or clothes; Christmas was the time to get toys. Growing up before the internet was a thing, before Black Friday sales dictated what the “must-have” items for the season were, preparing for Christmas meant sitting down with the big fat Sears Christmas Wish Book and seeing which toys were available that year. We would help our parents untangle the strings of Christmas lights, help decorate the house, and work on our list for Santa. That was it. We would then wait for Christmas morning, knowing it would be great. I knew what I wanted and who I needed to ask for it, and I trusted he would come through for me… Santa never disappointed me.
As I reflect on these memories, I wonder… when did it become so hard to make a wish list? And I don’t mean one of material things, but my soul’s wish list.
Knowing what you need and what you want is at the core of being childlike. As soon as a child begins to speak, the parent starts asking… What do you need? Are you hungry? Are you thirsty? Are you in pain? If those needs are expressed and then met, the child learns to trust, both the caregiver and himself. The child realizes his needs are valid and, exploring his desires, comes to a greater knowledge of himself. What is your favorite color? What is your favorite food? What do you like to do?
Then life happens… sin enters in. Broken, limited human love disappoints us, and we project that unto God. We spend years creating and nurturing a false self, one who is self-reliant, “adult-like,” less likely to get hurt. Desires that are too lofty and might not be met are numbed down, traded for ones deemed acceptable, tangible, easy to achieve by oneself.
While our faculties are busy taking care of our families, performing our duties, preparing for Christmas, let us allow our souls to rest with Jesus in the womb of Mary, being fed and nurtured, allowing our lungs to expand and develop. Perhaps this Advent we can take some time in prayer to let God affirm us in our identity, to just be and let the truth of who we are sink in. What if we sit in prayer and ask Our Father, What child is this?
It is here where the Spirit will come to our aid and ask for what we truly need.
That is it. We can then wait for Christmas morning, knowing it will be great. Our soul knows what we want and Who we need to ask for it… we just need to remember and trust that, just as He always has, He will come through for us… God will never disappoint.