Thursday, December 04, 2008

We Never Get the Advent We're Hoping For

I've been noticing a theme among many of the moms whose blog I visit: this is not the Advent we had planned. For some of us, it's due to sick children; for others, there are other circumstances that have made this Advent not go as planned. (And we're only 4 days in!)

Jane observed,
I'm finding myself getting--not necessarily the Advent I hoped for--but in some ways, the Advent of quiet solitude and prayerful reflection perhaps I need.

I never thought I'd quote the Rolling Stones in a post about Advent--but Jane's thoughts sound suspiciously like
You can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
But if you try sometimes you might find
You get what you need.

Fr. Tommy Lane, a faculty member at Mount St. Mary's Seminary, observes,
"Sometimes we pray for what we want and instead God gives us what we need. What we need is not always what we want but God in his provident mercy gives us what we need."

So, I didn't get the Advent Chain done this year. I was late getting the stable and the wreath set up. And in many ways, I feel like I'm a few steps behind, and getting "behinder" at every turn.

It's Advent. Will we ever be truly ready? Probably not. Jesus came to a world that was certainly not ready for Him. There wasn't even any room in the inn in Bethlehem, and surely Mary wasn't too thrilled about making a census-related journey late in her pregnancy. Christmas will come whether or not we have found the perfect candles for our wreath or the perfect gift for our kids' teachers. We know this, because the first Christmas came in a less-than-perfect manner. Even the Grinch learned this lesson:
"'It came without ribbons! It came without tags! It came without packages, boxes or bags!...Maybe Christmas,' he thought, 'doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!'"

I think Advent is less about preparation and more about trust. "Preparation" implies that we are concentrating on the worldly, the material. "Trust" demands that we concentrate on our souls, let go of our need to have everything perfect, and reflect upon the beautiful gift of the first Christmas.

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