Saturday, December 10, 2016



Advent, they tell us, is the season of waiting. This proving to be particularly true for me this year. Some months ago I wrote to my publisher inquiring if they would be interested in a book of Easter meditations that I was finishing at the time. I received a less-than-encouraging response that explained that Easter devotional books don't sell well, but that maybe in my case they would make an exception. I sent a reply explaining why I thought that they should at least take a look at this particular manuscript, which would be the fourth in a series of “Benedictine Journey” books, and enclosed some sample chapters. In response I got a “We’ll be back to you” email. Well, I’m still waiting.


The second reading for tomorrow’s mass (Third Sunday of Advent) from James, Chapter 5, stresses the virtue of patience. The Greek word used means “longsuffering,” putting up with hardship. In v. 8 the writer, after giving the farmer as a model of patience, says “You to must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, because the coming of the Lord is at hand.” The Greek word for “strengthen” is “sterizo,” “to make solid.” James is telling us to “bulk up” our hearts as we hang in there, waiting for the coming of Christ. (Sterizo  gives us our word “steroid.” Hmm. What if all Christians suddenly had hearts on steroids?)

The reflection for today (Saturday) in From Holidays to Holy Days concerns Christmas cards, and reflects on a couple of lines from Walt Whitman: “I see something of God each hour of the twenty-four, and each moment then,…I find letters from God dropt in the street, and every one is signed by God’s name.”

As I keep looking in my mailbox every afternoon, hoping to see an envelope from my publisher, I try to exercise patience -- even longsuffering. But this morning it occurs to me that I’m not paying much attention to the Christmas cards that fill my mailbox every day; I need to concentrate on these, instead of being distracted by waiting for one particular letter. This will also be a great exercise in the art of paying more attention to all those “letters from God dropt in the street, and every one is signed by God’s name.”

So, here’s my exercise for the final two weeks of Advent, intended to bulk-up my heart: Watch carefully for letters from God, not just in my mailbox, but in my classroom, in the monastery, in my parish on Sunday, and on the street. Christmas mail from God -- And every one is signed by God's name.

1 comment:

  1. Hope you get that letter! We all would benefit from a book like that. Merry Christmas!