A dear friend of mine often calls me a "litur-geek" due to my affection for all things liturgical and my desires to create the environment for what I once heard referred to as "the possibility for the miracle to happen." As I tell the liturgical ministers that I train, doing what we do well matters! Preparing is a vital piece of liturgy. Everyone can tell the difference between the lector who prepared and the lector who is reading the passage for the first time. Could you imagine being an unprepared lector today who had to read about "drunkards" and "orgies"?
This weekend I had an opportunity to spend time catching up with dear friends from college, one of whom is just about as (if not more) "catholic dorky"as I am. Upon arriving at the convent for the night she pulled small bundles of hay out of her suitcase. She explained that we were to each take a bundle as a reminder of how we are preparing for the coming of Christ. I must admit, I laughed at her gesture . . . maybe I just couldn't get over the fact that she had just pulled HAY out of her SUITCASE!
She kindly made enough for the sisters with whom I live. I was still a bit giddy over this concept of praying with bundles of hay throughout the Advent Season, but as I distributed them to the sisters I realized through their genuinely joyous reactions that there is something in this worth reflecting on.
How am I preparing myself for the coming of Christ, not just the baby Jesus but the deeper, more transformative meaning of Advent, the second coming of Christ? This question was also the focus of this evening's homily. After a hilarious retelling of a Black Friday shopping adventure in which Fr. Lowe broke down three attitudes toward Advent through the actions of his nieces and nephew he raised a point that shifted my whole mindset toward the Season of Advent. There are three ways he laid out to enter into Advent. 1) The Placid Nephew--waiting calmly, "I've done it before, I'll do it again, I know the routine." 2) The Ecstatic Niece--so focused on the outcome and excited in the moment that nothing else matters. and 3) The Enraged Niece--"There's nothing here for me, let's move on."
As he spoke I quickly labeled myself the "Ecstatic" one. I am excited to be entering into Advent. As Joan and I sat earlier talking about our elaborate plans for our nativity scene I lit up brighter than a Christmas tree. Just when I was feeling proud of myself for being the one who was excited he made the shift. What if we opened ourselves up in such a way that we truly listened to God's call in our lives and what God's path was for us throughout this season? How different would our journey look?
While it's good to be excited about the season I have to remember that it's not my own journey, I walk this path with Christ and so I must be open to new directions. I cannot let my excitement dictate the path, but God alone must be given the driving privileges!
And so I will keep my bundle of hay this season as a reminder of just that--openness to truly listen to God in my life as I prepare myself for the Christmas Season.