During this Advent season, Linda Bevec reflects on the mystery of the ongoing anticipation of Christ’s coming. Linda is a regular contributor to our series. She and and her husband Frank reside in Kenosha with their three children, Frankie, Claire and Grace.
Fr. Richard Rohr, a Franciscan whose writings I always admire says that our entire lives, and the life of the church, is one huge “Advent.” Advent is always – until the end of days.
When we think about Advent in this way as being beyond the weeks leading up to Christmas and transcending into our everyday life, it takes on a much deeper and richer meaning. In our secular world there’s always that post-holiday let down. After the presents are opened and the holiday table has been cleared, the Christmas cookies become stale and the Advent candles have burned down to a stub. We pack it all up for next year and turn the calendar to January as we settle back into grey winter days and the routine of everyday life. My children always feel it too, and with a heavy sigh and slight sadness they ask, “What’s the next holiday coming up Mom?” I guess the real joy of Christmas is in the waiting, the anticipation, the hope of what’s to come and there’s a certain disappointment when it’s all over. But isn’t that feeling of Advent what we as Christians should always feel 365 days a year?
When I was little, my mom would hide our Christmas presents until she got them all wrapped and under the tree on Christmas Eve. With five kids in the house, this meant she had to find some really good places to hide them so little hands and eyes wouldn’t go peeking under beds or in closets and ruin the surprise. I remember one year after Christmas we were taking the decorations off the tree and sweeping up the pine needles that had scattered all over the floor. My mom pulled the couch out so we could sweep everything underneath it. And behind the couch was a Christmas present she hid and had forgotten! I don’t know who was more surprised, her or us! It was a present for my brother and I immediately felt a surge of joy and hope in my own heart that there might be one more present hidden somewhere for me. Even after the Christmas tree was long gone I continued to search for it around the house and I think it was March or April before I finally gave up. This memory came to mind today because I have that same childlike feeling of hope and longing for a special “hidden” gift. It’s what I feel now during Advent – and always. Because I know that Christ is the only real joy that can fill my whole heart. He’s the “joy that the world cannot give” (John 14:27) and as faithful Catholics we must all remember the best is yet to come…the gift of all gifts. It’s a feeling of real emptiness at times, especially when the trials, sadness, and suffering of life hits. Yet we have the assurance and trust that the most fulfilling gift of all is coming.
As we continue through these weeks of Advent let’s remember that every day of our lives should be lived with this same feeling of joyful waiting, anticipating, and making our hearts and homes ready to receive Him. Because he will come again and his gift will be far greater than we could ever imagine.