Second Week of Advent…Now What?

Second Week of Advent…Now What? December 6, 2021

The second week of Advent is when my sixth child received his name.  We’d gone to mass. We were in the choir loft, where we could see and still keep containment on five children ranging in age from eleven to two.  We could also watch the oldest serve at the mass.   The reading came from the Gospel of Luke, when Zechariah motions for a tablet and writes, “His name is John.”  I knew in that moment, this would be our son’s name.

In the past week, we attended and some volunteered with “Breakfast with Santa,”  attended and some were in, “Macbeth” at the high school, and John discovered, he wasn’t popular, he was a leader.   People followed because of how he made them feel –valued and wanted for what they could do.   It’s been a bit of an eye opener for him.

As we sat in the mass, listening to a different story about Saint John the Baptist, about being in the desert, eating locusts and honey and wearing camel shirts, I wondered, what the next four years hold for him.   More than he guessed is my bet, and I prayed for him to discover the more he doesn’t quite see now even though he comes to every mass.   He complains, but he comes.   I take great comfort that he comes.    He’s applying to college and the start over will be a surprise for him, he who never went anywhere someone else didn’t trail blaze before.    He’ll discover some of the moreness of what it means to be him.

This past week, I attended confession, and the priest alluded to self denial as a form of prayer.  I’m trying to discipline myself about a diabetic diet. I am not doing well, as there are ginger bread cookies and chocolate truffles and pasta and sesame bread all around me.  It is fair to say, I would not make a good hermit.   I am not inclined or gifted at either fasting or self denial.   In fact, whenever I announce to myself, “I’m fasting from X,”  whatever “X” is, will immediately seem to drop out of the sky in abundance.  Not sure if it’s temptation or a sign not to fast on this or just a combination of bad timing and weak wills –probably the last.

The time of Advent feels too short to me, like it should be as long as Lent for symmetry purposes.   We should have forty days of joyful waiting, to make sure we somehow arrive at December 25th, recognizing the moreness of that day that has nothing to do with the feast or the presents or the decorations.    I pray for the moreness of people returning home, returning to the faith, because that would be the joy of Heaven on Earth, to know others knew the importance of Christ born on that day into the world, a visible sign of infinite love for all to witness if they looked.   Such a moment would be the present of all presents.

When I think of that possibility, Advent seems too long, because I’d like Christmas in all hearts now.    There’s that struggle with self denial again, with waiting being as hard as saying “No” to sweets and carbs for me.   The urgency in the Gospel to prepare, to make one’s self ready, is addressed to me, to not put it off, to not think it will happen if I have more time, but if I use the time given well.

The candles must be burned down, so that none of the fat wick clings, only the flame remains.  That leaves me with the question that links back to the confession and preparing for Christmas, “what must I burn away, so that others who wander into the desert, who find themselves in a hostile world with harshness everywhere, can hear and see Christ?”

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