Being the second oldest of seven children, I spent a lot of time when I was growing up chauffeuring my younger brothers and sisters to various places for various activities.
Because one of my grandmothers also did not drive, I often would end up driving her to various events and activities as well. Now, I wish I could tell you my motives for being the family chauffeur were entirely altruistic, however it was simply the price my mother exacted if I wanted to use the car on weekends.
Now to be quite honest, chauffeuring my brothers and sisters around was no picnic. They were almost never ready to leave when they were supposed to be.
There were often unplanned stops and/or detours, and they were seldom ready and waiting when I arrived to pick them up. Worse, though, was the fact that their gratitude was almost non-existent — a fact I remind them of every so often, especially when I need a favor from one of them.
My grandmother, on the other hand, was different. She never failed to be ready when I stopped to pick her up and, in fact, was almost always waiting for me.
This same thing was true when I returned to take her home from wherever she had been.
Even in cold weather she would be standing either outside or close by the door waiting and watching for me so that I wouldn’t be delayed or kept waiting. And she never failed to express gratitude for the ride.
An Advent kind of person
My grandmother was truly an Advent kind of person. She knew how to be prepared and how to wait expectantly. Even when her timetable had to be adjusted, she never complained, realizing better than most, that time spent waiting does not have to be wasted time. It can be used for quiet reflection and interior preparation. It can be a time when anticipation grows and expectations develop. Or as in my grandmother’s case, it also could be used for a decade or two of the rosary for some of her errant grandchildren.
During the season of Advent, while the world around us seems to speed up and become busier than ever, the liturgies of this season call us to slow down and wait — to wait in joyful hope and faith-filled expectation.
And even though we know what it is we are waiting and preparing for, there is (or should be) a sense of newness and excitement about it. For the great miracle of the Incarnation did not happen once long ago only to exist now as a pleasant memory. Rather, it is an ongoing event.
God continues to touch the world with God’s grace and God’s love. At times, however, we can become so busy that this most basic fact can recede into the background of our lives, or worse, be forgotten altogether.
As modern day believers, we need to be reminded on a regular basis that the Incarnation — the Eternal Word becoming flesh — was and continues to be a wondrous event. The season of Advent serves as one of those reminders. It is a time of remembering, a time of quiet preparation, a time of waiting in joyful expectation, as we prepare to celebrate anew the birth of our Savior.
My prayer during the season of Advent is that it will be for all of us that special kind of time, that the dawn of Christ’s coming may find us welcoming him with love and open to his redeeming grace.
Father John Bauer is rector of the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis.
From The Catholic Spirit