As the Family Goes

JP II Quote

"As the family goes, so goes the nation, and so goes the whole world in which we live." John Paul II

Friday, December 14, 2012

Joyful Waiting

My infant daughter is discovering faces.  She finds a feature she enjoys and then locks on, super intent, before finding your eyes and exploding into a smile of pure delight.  She will continue to repeat the whole thing for as long as you have patience to sit with her.  As a result, we're spending a lot of time like this:

Contrary to what you might expect, babies have a way of slowing the pace of family life, and helping you focus on what's important - what's right in front of you.  I encounter many people in the run of the day who think I am a martyr for doing what I do, and I'm sure they assume I live my life in a buzz of neverending and thankless activity.  And while it's true that some days can be like that for me as much as for any other person, it's these little guys who help me keep life in perspective. 

I hate to sit still, and I always feel like there's something else I should be doing.  But yesterday afternoon I sat in my chair like this for at least a half hour, while each of my children took turns snuggling up next to me, eager to see for themselves just what it was their sister was doing that had their mother so delighted.  And she rewarded their patience with a smile all their own, which made them feel that they were the most special kids on the planet!  How much joy she brings to us.  In those precious moments, I wasn't concerned with the million other things I "should" be doing - I knew they could wait.  There was someone more important to attend to.  Not to change, or feed, or clothe - just to be with.  To be present to her, and in so doing be present to the other kids as well, and to allow my heart to be filled.

I think that Advent is to Christmas what a new baby is to an already large family - not just one more thing to tack onto an already busy life, but a centering, grounding force, meant to point you to your real purpose.  Advent is not about finding something else to do, more crafts to make, more readings to do, to take away from our Christmas is meant to ground us, to draw us deeper into the mystery of Christmas - the Christ child born to us as one of us, so that when our Saviour arrives we encounter Him not with heads swirling amid too many things to do, but in a quiet moment of peace and joy, gazing deep into His eyes and being present to Him.  And in so doing He gazes upon us, into our souls and - if we are patient - rewards us with His smile so deep that His pure delight radiates our very being, and we cannot help but be filled with Joy.

May this Christmas season find each one of us ready and waiting, prepared to welcome our Lord into lives here and now, in every moment.  And may we never forget the joy that comes from gazing into the eyes of a baby.

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