In my haste, I was sorely tempted to do something truly foolish the other morning.
Those whose cars are parked outdoors on a regular basis would likely never understand my near-folly. No doubt, they build a little extra time into their schedules this time of year, so they’ll have a chance to scrape frost off the windshield before hitting the road.
My car, in contrast, only recently lost its warm cozy overnight spot in the garage, its erstwhile space now temporarily given over to construction materials for a home remodeling project we have underway.
So it came as a bit of shock when I saw the frigid gift Mother Nature had deposited on the autoglass. I instantly understood that I wasn’t going anywhere fast, but I had a notion to speed things up a bit – once the machine’s defogger had melted a small patch of visibility down near the bottom of the windshield. “If I bend down over the steering wheel a bit, I can probably see well enough to drive – at least on this familiar route through my neighborhood,” I recall my addled brain thinking in the moment.
Then the caffeine kicked in, and I realized how utterly ignorant such a stunt would be. “Just search for the scraper…exert a little elbow grease…and you’ll be on your way soon enough, and safely,” my Better Angel advised.
And that is in fact how my early-morning travel time unfolded – surely much to the relief of any other drivers on the road.
It was a blessing to think back on that moment today, as the holy season of Advent begins. There’s a commonly expressed sentiment among those of us inclined to mark the season: how difficult it is to slow things down this time of year. How, despite our best intentions, we often skip right past the grace available during these four weeks – in our haste to hit the road toward Christmas celebrations.
Amazing, how a simple thing like a late-autumn frost can offer something of a curative. It reminded me, first, of how thoroughly my vision can be obscured – how easy it is to miss what the Holy One might want me to see; and second, how haste only ultimately compounds the problem. The time is right, as St. Paul exhorts us, to make the effort and clear away what might be blinding me:
…the night is advanced, the day is at hand. Let us then throw off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light…
And then there’s this: According to Jesus, it’s in the little, everyday things that I’m most like to find my opportunities for Advent grace:
Two men will be out in the field; one will be taken, and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken, and one will be left.
So I stand now, scraper in hand…wondering how best to prepare my own heart to receive the Lord this Advent, and perhaps to share Him, especially with those who might be standing right here next to me. Then together, we pray: “Marana tha! Come, Lord Jesus.”
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy & Merciful One.
Beautiful lesson based on the most ordinary of circumstances!