Advent is season of preparation not to be wasted
Have you ever heard that saying that fun is all about the anticipation? That's me. I've always felt the best part about just about anything we deem to be pleasurable or worthwhile comes in the waiting.
As a child, I delighted in the things that lead up to Christmas: shopping, listening to the carols, going to Chicago to look at the decorated windows, talking with Santa, wrapping the gifts and sitting in the quiet of the night in a darkened living room, gazing at the sparkling lights on the tree.
Seriously, even today, you could plop my Christmas present right in the middle of my desk and I wouldn't take a peek until Christmas morn.
The anticipation, the preparation leading up to the big day - is, for me, what makes Christmas so special.
That is the why the Church has given us the gift of Advent. It is a time to prepare, to await, to anticipate the coming of the Lord Jesus, both in the manger and in time to come. And, in my humble opinion, this gift of Advent is something we often waste.
We all spend an inordinate amount of time preparing for the "stuff" of Christmas. Wouldn't it be nice if we would put an equal amount of energy into interior preparation – preparing our souls, our minds and our hearts for the coming of the Lord?
I imagine the Blessed Mother spent time in physical preparation for her child...making clothes, folding diapers, creating a safe, warm space for him to lay his precious head at night. But I also believe she spent time preparing herself spiritually.
Mary knew this child was a gift from God – a miracle. Even in the midst of her deep faith and her acquiescence to God's will, she must have taken time to reflect on what the coming of this child would mean, not only to her and Joseph, but to the world.
How will we prepare? One way is to make ourselves more consciously aware of the many ways God makes his presence known to us each and every day.
We sing of peace on earth and goodwill toward all. What needs to happen in order for us to experience peace in our own lives? Do we need to ask for forgiveness from someone we've hurt or extend it to someone else?
Do we get up each morning with a prayerful request that we might carry our Christ light to someone in need this day?
Looking back at the historical event or forward to the time to come, the reality is that what matters is the present, the here and now. Advent is all about Jesus coming to us and we should be asking if we are doing enough to make him welcome.
Advent is a time to open our hearts to what was, what is and what is to come. This is a glorious season of hope and longing. It's a time to anticipate and rejoice, to "walk in the light of the Lord." Let's not waste it.