Tuesday night we went to a dinner put on by the diocese to celebrate the beginning of Advent. It was such a nice evening: a wine and cheese reception (with, in my oenophile husband’s estimation, a very well-chosen selection of wines), a delicious dinner, then a talk about Advent by our bishop, all on a cold night within the cozy confines of the diocesan retreat center.
I had expected the bishop’s speech to be a dry, academic overview of Advent; instead, it was a surprisingly refreshing call to action to “Wake up!” and prepare for Christ’s coming at Christmas. He held up an alarm clock to emphasize that Advent is, among other things, a time of waking up to Christ. He also used the current time on the clock as a symbolic reminder to look for Christ’s presence in the present moment: right here, right now. He pointed to the clock and encouraged us to ask ourselves, “Where do we see Christ, right here in this moment, at 8:48 on a Tuesday night?”
This wake-up call (so to speak) was exactly what I needed. Earlier in my conversion I was much more conscious of God’s presence in all things. As I’ve grown more complacent, however, I’ve fallen into compartmentalizing the times that I look for God. At Mass on Sundays? Certainly. In precious moments with my children? Yes. In my daily interactions with friends and family? Well, not usually. At the grocery store when it’s crowded and I’m in a hurry and people are cutting RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME and then WALKING SLOOOOWLY as a seemingly deliberate attempt to DRIVE ME INSANE? Umm…no.
Looking for Christ in each moment, no matter how mundane or routine or frustrating my circumstances, is something I definitely need to work on. Our bishop suggested that we start each day during Advent with this simple prayer (I’m paraphrasing from memory, but I think that’s pretty close):
Lord, I know that you will reveal yourself to me today. Give me the eyes of faith to see you. Help me be awake.
“Help me be awake.” After a long summer and fall where I allowed spiritual dryness to become spiritual laziness, this is exactly the prayer I need to be saying right now.
photo by Tony Newell