The final weeks of Advent: embedded in the palpable anticipation, layers of stress, strings of tasks, are the singular moments that shape reality and memory. It is about so much more than the waiting and so much more than the wanting. Those moments of exquisite clarity make all the rest possible. And in a world of rapid change and bitter acrimony, those are the moments that must define and then sustain.
There is the laughter of a grandparent; the exchange of tender glances; the random act of kindness of strangers. Doors held open; messes swept up; singing in the aisles of churches and stores. Pausing over those moments is a testimony to something beyond self. It is an invitation to see the profound kindness and respect for one another that can be birthed in this season. It is an invitation to practice as well as receive those kindnesses. It is the sense that other can matter more than self, and it is at least as enriching to self as it is to the other to put someone or something before self-gratification. It is the belief that we exist in tiny ensembles orchestrating performances with each experience, interaction, within a day. It is the awareness of the very strengths and limits of each person in each situation. It is believing that each of us is doing the very best we can with what we have at the moment. And it is the trust that, beyond that, there is the tenderness of a God who profers moments of joy even if we are not quite always, or ever, aware of the tiny miracles.
Advent, especially this third week, unabashedly offers that whisper of joy. And somehow it confides the Nativity to come. Because there, in the story of childbirth and revelation, each life finds a mirror. Looking into that mirror means being willing to embrace a whole new view of the world….and of self . It means being able to see the moments of joy even in the suffering and sadness which characterizes human life. It is about seeing the bigger picture and believing in more.