On the first Sunday of Advent, I found myself in the express checkout line at the grocery store. The cashier rang up my items, put them in a bag, and handed me back my change, quickly and efficiently, then went on to the next person in line.
Normally, what I do at that point is stuff the change and receipt into my purse, get out of the way as fast as I can, and wait until I get into the car to put the change in my wallet and the receipt in its place. But this day, feeling kinda Adventy, I decided to take the extra few seconds at the register to put my money in my wallet, the wallet back in my purse, and gather my belongings without rushing.
Needless to say, in that time the cashier had already rung up the purchases of the customer behind me, pushed the items into the bagging area, and was working on giving the customer his change. Right then and there, I decided that even if I annoyed the heck out of everyone around me with my pokiness, my Advent practice this year would be to take my time; to be patient and act with intention instead of mindlessly rushing through.
What’s been interesting is, although I marched into this practice with the zeal of a Crusader, the practice has turned its head on me, forcing me to practice patience beyond my original intent. For example, the other day I was late for an appointment and the person in the car in front of me decided to let three cars from a side street merge into the line. Are you kidding me? Why do I have to wait because that driver decided to be generous?
If we open ourselves to patient waiting, we might not always like what happens. But is there any other way to approach this sacred season?
My practice has been helped this Advent by reading one of the books in Franciscan Media’s new series of reflections by Sr. Wendy Beckett: Sister Wendy on the Art of Christmas. This is a book of total beauty, with meditations on fourteen pieces of classic art related to the Advent and Christmas season. In reading and reflecting, I think of the time it took to paint these stunning works, and the patience demanded of me each day seems like nothing more than a speck of dust.
May this last week of Advent bring you closer to the joy of Christmas.
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