Wish I knew where this quote came from, but my friend that posted it only recalls hearing it somewhere. Wow. Does it hit home. Fits perfectly with the closing part of the talk I gave recently in Harrisburg as well. Patience and waiting....it's what Advent is all about...and our waiting for a child as well.
Blessings to you all!
(excerpt from "Hope for the Journey, given 12/11/2010)
Advent is a time of waiting and a season of hope. It is packed with moments that remind us of the journeys of so many who have experience barrenness before us. Dec 8th we celebrate the Immaculate Conception of our Lady, the long-awaited daughter of Anne and Joachim. Dec 9th we celebrate the Feast of St. Hannah and also Juan Diego, both united in their desire for a child. Dec 12th we celebrate Our Lady of Guadalupe, protectress of the unborn. The mass readings are packed with their stories. Last year even Fr. Bob noticed this and came up to me one morning after mass and said that he wanted me to know that he was praying for me…he had never realized how many references to pregnant women there were during Advent and how painful that must be. Oh my goodness…just to hear him say that and to recognize this was such a comfort to my soul. But it was true.
Last year I didn’t experience as much. Dave and had had several cycles where hopes were higher than normal, only to fall abruptly and crash lower. I’m ashamed to say that I found myself consumed with envy of the Blessed Virgin. Sure her life wasn’t easy, but at least she KNEW she was going to have a child in the near future. As the Advent prayers of the mass say, we look for him “whose coming is certain.” She was certain that a little one would enter her life in the near future. I didn’t have a little one in my life “whose coming was certain”. I didn’t have any promises. As the mass readings escalated in the excitement of the child who was to come, and we heard about the flurry of activity that preceded His birth, I fell more into sorrow and despair as my own life seemed to be going further down a road in the opposite direction of the season. The darkness of Advent became a very real reality to me and I struggled to find that light that pierced the darkness. All around me seemed to be filled with hope, and yet I was struggling to maintain any shred of hope. One of the greatest sources of pain for me was the empty manger in our crèche , as I was daily reminded that we were NOT expecting the long-awaited one in our life. And then one day I faced the realization that I was angry with Our Lady and envious of her. I was angry with her for seemingly flaunting her pregnancy in my face when my own heart was breaking and I was jealous of her for the joy that she had coming soon when she would get to hold her child. But I had missed the point. Advent reminds us that in the midst of the wait for God’s promises and prayers, we can have hope and we can trust. Our Lady neither flaunted her pregnancy nor did she turn a deaf ear to my pleas for her consolation. The image on the front of the handout is an icon that our parish had on holy cards last Advent. Father Bill encouraged me to look upon this image, as see my loving Mother, bearing the Christ child in her womb, with her arms raised and hands outstretched, was showing that she was bearing Him for us….for me. She did not wish to keep Him for herself, but rather she was bringing Him to those who would need Him most…for me. She bears the one who is to me and to each of us the greatest gift that we will ever receive. She bears Him for us.
Listen to the carols of Advent, read the promises in the book of Isaiah, listen to the cries of Israel as they wait for God’s promised Messiah to come. Come this coming Tuesday to hear Lessons and Carols at the parish. I have a feeling they will have a new and richer meaning for all of as we consider Israel’s wait for their child with the experiences that we have felt personally. Consider how long the world had had to wait for the conception of this child. How long had Israel awaited this promised little one? FAR longer than I have been waiting for the one I hope for in my womb. How painful was their wait? What suffering had they endured in the waiting? And yet just when it seemed that all was lost and hope was gone, God showed the world that He is faithful in keeping His promises. Here, at last, His spoken promise took flesh. The prayers of the mass in Advent “grant this through him whose coming is certain.” Those same words that had rubbed me raw earlier in Advent because I was upset that I DID NOT have someone whose coming was certain. ..now I saw those words in an entirely different light. No…I don’t have a baby in my life whose coming is certain. I am not promised a pregnancy. I am not promised physical motherhood. But Christ’s coming IS certain. HE will not fail to come. And this, not physical motherhood, has to be the source of our hope.
Advent is a season of hope in the promises of God. So it is fitting then that we would gather tonight to share with one another our longing for a children.…simultaneously we in darkened silence for, Jesus, the child of our universal longing. It is a time when heaven touches earth.
Let us continue to pray for the gift of a little life in our own and allow the hope of Christ to touch us. For who are we to underestimate the love, power and grace of God?
(if you would like a copy of the talk, just let me know and I'll try to get a copy out to you.)