33 days ago I started a journey of consecrating myself to Jesus through Mary, a Marian consecration. In my article for CatholicMom.com on Monday I talked about how Mary has gently and sneakily wrapped me into a loving embrace of Jesus and has inadvertently begun a period of advent in my own life as I wait upon Jesus’ words and how to respond to his call in my life.
Funny, isn’t it, how things happen and we don’t know what to make of them at the time and so we wait in anticipation of what they might mean. We advent in our lives. The bride and bridgegroom await in advent of their marriage. The bursting with joy child who cannot stop talking about her birthday coming up is in the advent of her birthday celebrations. Frodo, awaiting horrors of his perilous journey ahead of him and not knowing what is to happen in the end, speaks of wishing that it did not happen in his time; ultimately, that he did not have to deal with this situation that has arisen in his life. Gandalf the Wise famously speaks a quote to young Frodo in those mines of Moria: “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” This time he speaks of is in advent. The waiting. The anticipation. What we do with this time of waiting is what shapes us when our moment arrives. In anticipation of a game, an athlete prepares their body and practices that which will be needed when the moment arrives for the game. They practice what will be needed.
The question turns to me – how am I practicing in anticipation of my death (or Christ’s arrival, whichever comes first)? How am I living my life to prepare for this? How am I living the advent?
Just this weekend my father suffered a massive heart attack. Thankfully he survived, due in no small part to those hard working medical attendants who practice and prepare for these moments of crisis. He was air-flown to a major city to receive treatment to help his body function and recover. And now we are in advent of recovery. We are in advent of information to know what is required for recovery and what help will be needed. Advent.
I was surprised by Mary’s arrival in my life 33 days ago in a completely unexpected way. Unexpectedly she helped draw my experiences in life-changing-events together with reflections of Mother Teresa’s writings that seem to say simultaneously, “Jesus hasn’t forgotten you and your life journey” and “prepare yourself for what is to come.” I have no idea what is to come, but I don’t take these experiences lightly, either.
During this 33 day journey a favourite author (Ann Voskamp) put her book One Thousand Gifts on sale in a very significant way. I had thoughts about buying this book or her other one, The Greatest Gift, for an adventing read. I snatched the opportunity to read one without humming and hawing over investing.
One thousand gifts. It is a challenge. Can I list one thousand gifts? Simple and beautiful expressions of God’s love for me, can I name one thousand of them? Can I be challenged to be changed by this step into gratitude? Embarking. This has turned into a way that I am preparing and practicing in my time of advent. If it hadn’t been for that sale, it’s probable I wouldn’t have bought the book. It is a gift in itself, giving me something to practice while in advent. In Advent. This advent is a gift. What to do with the time that is given us.
Mary. Mary has been at these turns of events and has been an unexpected and welcomed grace that I feel wholly unworthy of embracing. I have never chosen to jump into her arms, and yet she is persistent. I can feel her heart longing to pull me closer to Jesus and she, in her ever-clever-cheeky-Mother way laughs at my personality and pulls me in in the most unexpected of ways. I stumble and think I brought myself here before Jesus only to look back over my shoulder and see she is standing there smiling at me. It is here I get off my high horse and embrace this humility, and she winks. She knows me before I even knew I was this way myself. She knows what will work to bring me to Jesus and as long as I’m here, she’s happy. I’m happy. Jesus is happy.
Advent. Funny, isn’t it, how we advent in our lives. And if we’re not careful, we don’t know into what we’re adventing ourselves.
Happy Feast Day of the Immaculate Conception!
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