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Experiencing Advent

December 9th 2019
I had a roommate back in school who began every
day disrobed except for his one and only pair of
shoes. The first thing he would do each morning was
to don those shoes, get out his tin of Shinola and a
shoe-brush and give those old size twelve wingtips a
good shine. He seemed to take great pleasure in this.
And the image of this long-legged, buck-naked shoeshine
boy with one leg up on a bench brushing away
remains in my memory. Years later, after he became
a psychiatrist, I reminded him of his shoe-shineshow
and he informed me that this morning ritual
still gave him a small but much needed sense of
accomplishment. It seemed appropriate given his
chosen profession where finality can be elusive.
With the season of Advent and another liturgical
year upon us, the question of what it can offer us
and what we can accomplish to make it meaningful
is a matter of import. A few Advents ago I
encountered a friend while out Christmas shopping.
“I’m ready for Advent” she informed me, and then
removed 3 purple and 1 rose bath pods from her
shopping bag...the colors of Advent. Presumably
bath pods tossed into water are appreciated for both
their scent and their color. And, one’s bath can serve
as a sanctuary to provide us some peace in this
hectic season. That’s an accomplishment.
Advent is a season that we celebrate surreptitiously.
It is four weeks hidden within what our consumer
world calls “the holiday season”, the season that
promises so much and hardly ever delivers. Advent
is a quiet, hidden season. It tells us that it is okay to
hope and find meaning in small ways. It’s acceptable
during Advent to think that we might find a bit of
joy, peace and contentment. After all, one of the
ways we encounter God is in experiencing some of
that joy, peace and contentment. And it’s okay to
hope in Advent. We were created to hope. Hope is
the first evidence, the first real experience that we
have of God. Hope, like Advent, is about “God with
us”. Advent bath pods may sound a bit silly, but so
does Advent, to some. Yet the “silly” silence of
Advent is not a bad way to experience this season.
Find some sacred, secret silence this Advent; soak it
up in a scented tub and let it speak of steadfast,
simple, sensible hope.
- submitted by Tom

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