Tuesday, December 18, 2012

O Advent

O Advent -- a time of reflection and penance.

This Advent has offered more than its share of opportunities to grow.

The more I felt like I was ahead of the game, the more I realized that I hadn't even entered the game.

Busy, busy, busy...

Sure, I have six kids, and one that requires an extra amount of care. It's bound to be hectic.

But, what I am really referring to is the being behind the eight ball when it comes to truly preparing ones heart for Christmas.

I tend to focus on all the wrong things. I typically lean heavily toward being a Martha, not a Mary at this time of year.

 I try to dot all the "i's" and cross all the "t's". But, often forget to engage my heart, but never my temper when things don't go as planned.

I guard my heart -- sometimes too much. It's can be a curse. I appear to have a general lack of empathy as a result. It's my safety net -- one that I have woven together over the years strand by strand to soften the blows that come from disappointments and sorrows.

This Advent, however, has forced my hand with many situations that brought to the surface feelings that I often suppress in an effort to be everyone's strength. I wandered down an emotional road that I am not used to navigating because the moment I realize I'm on it, I quickly jump right off.

I had become spiritually lazy; my prayer life was inconsistent; my family relationships were starting to become antagonistic rather than loving; I was withdrawing from everyone and just going through the paces.

I had stopped putting LOVE first -- worship of God and tending to my spiritual life had become an "I'll get to it in a minute" reality.

Ahhh, Advent. It smacked me right in the face with my complacency. And, as if it weren't enough to confront my sloth for the sake of the season, the world gave me reasons beyond my limited ability to deal without God's grace.

As, I reflect on how there is still grace available in just going through the motions, I realize that others, who have truly been suffering under the weight of staggering crosses in their lives, have been the buoys in my tossing sea of stress and emotion. I am so grateful to them for their holy example and their kindmess and love. They probably don't even realize how precious their friendship and courage in adversity have touched my heart and given me hope, even in the most of moments.

So, this piece is meant to say thank you to all the special people who help me to realize that love is more than doing, more than knowing, more than feeling. It is about keeping Christ present and being Christ's presence to others -- sometimes it is wordless, a simple glance or a light touch of acknowledgment. Thank you for helping me set aside the "busy" for the embrace; the rush for the time to make the personal connection.

This Advent brought me to my knees, and allowed me to recognize my vulnerability. It has given me the chance to confront my emotions and let myself accept that I am not perfect -- not even close.

It has given me permission to "do my best" without regrets, especially if what I am doing is less than what I would have hoped for from myself. My effort is still a success in the eyes of my Savior. That has also tempered my response to what are possibly very unrealistic expectations I  have of others; expectations that often lead to bitterness and disappointment.

I am ready, Lord, to welcome the Child, because this Advent I am reminded that I too am only a  simple child in the Spirit. Living this as a model to others will be my prayer and resolution moving forward.

The O Antiphons started yesterday, and I am eager to embrace them:

O Sapientia (December 17) O Wisdom (Eccl 24: 5), you came forth from the mouth of the Most High (Sir 24: 30), and reaching from beginning to end, you ordered all things mightily and sweetly (Wis 8: 1). Come, and teach us the way of prudence (Isa 40: 14).
O Adonai (December 18) O Adonai or O Lord and Ruler (Exod 6: 13) and Ruler of the house of Israel (Matt 2: 6), you appeared to Moses in the fire of the burning bush (Exod 3: 2), and on Mount Sinai gave him your Law (Exod 20). Come, and with outstretched arm redeem us (Jer 32: 21).
O Radix Jesse (December 19) O Root of Jesse, you stand for the ensign of all mankind (Isa 11: 10); before you kings shall keep silence and to you all nations shall have recourse (Isa 52: 15). Come, save us, and do not delay (Hab 2: 3).
O Clavis David (December 20) O Key of David (Apoc 3: 7) Scepter of the house of Israel, you open and no man closes; you close and no man opens (Isa 22: 22). Come, and deliver him from the chains of prison who sits in darkness and in the shadow of death (Ps 107: 10).
O Oriens (December 21) O Rising Dawn (Zac 6: 12), Radiance of the Light eternal (Hab 3: 4) and Sun of Justice (Mal 3: 20); Come, enlighten those who sit in darkness & the shadow of death (Ps 107: 10; Lk 1: 78).
O Rex Gentium (December 22) O King of the Gentiles (Hag 2: 8), Desired of all, you are the cornerstone that binds two into one (Eph 2: 20). Come, and save poor man whom you fashion out of clay (Gen 2: 7).
O Emmanuel (December 23) O Emmanuel (Isa 7: 14; 8: 8), our King and Lawgiver (Gen 49:10; cf. Ezek 21: 32), the Expected of the nations and their Savior (Isa 33: 22): Come, and save us, O Lord our God.

 These antiphons put into perspective just who I am in relation to the Lord, God. Come, Lord Jesus, come. You have allowed a very profound Advent to prepare for Your coming.

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