Advent Afternoons: Falling Over the Side
As the eldest of five siblings, I was required to do a lot of baby-sitting. So much, and often so begrudgingly, that my family expressed some degree of amazement that I ever had children of my own. To my eleven year old self, watching my five year old brother was an especially onerous assignment – not because he was difficult, but because he wanted to do the same thing over and over and over. His favorite activity was playing “Sea Hunt”. It involved my “driving” the bed/boat while he (a la Lloyd Bridges) repeatedly curled up and rolled off the side into the ocean/pile of pillows. He loved it. I thought it was stupid. If you want to roll off the bed, I thought, just do it. Who needs a script and a cast, let alone an audience? (yes, my preteen self was already obnoxious enough to hold such judgmental opinions.)
Well, my lack of imagination – not to mention my dearth of sibling charity – meant that I lost out on the opportunity to join my brother in collapsing into giggles while falling over the edge to one of life’s few soft landings.
The observance of Advent is a bit like Bob’s delight in rolling over the edge. We do it every year, with relatively little variation in script; pregnant with potential, we approach this season in one of two ways — either with an elder sister’s sense of duty or, if we’re lucky, a preschooler’s sense of wonder.
But how often we trudge through these days in December without allowing ourselves to be drawn into their joyous sense of drama and anticipation! How often we have sat at a safe and cynical distance while those with more imagination have plunged into the welcoming seas of preparation.
We’re still in the first week of Advent. There is plenty of time to change our hearts and minds…time to slip into the life-giving waters of prayer… or to bounce on the pillows of hope.