By Carol Powell
The liturgical season of Advent is here once again. This is a time when we prepare not only to celebrate the birth of Christ but to remind ourselves of the Second Coming of Christ at the end of time. We are also asked to prepare our hearts and to purify our lives so that the Christ-life may grow in us through the power of the Spirit. Many of us yearn to find times of quiet and peace to reflect on these eternal realities. But let’s face it – most of us spend this time not in peace but in pieces.
This is the most hectic time of the year for the majority of people. Thanksgiving has just ended. The relatives have gone home. So, between Grandma and Grandpa decorating the house for the Christmas season, shopping for gifts, making travel arrangements and trying to figure out whose house to visit for Christmas and New Year’s, there is hardly a moment to reflect on anything deeper.
What is the answer? Do we just lament our fast-paced society and allow ourselves to be swallowed up in a whirlwind of frenzied activity? Can we possibly be in peace rather than pieces as we try to fulfill our seasonal obligations?
Some years ago, after spending much wasted time searching for that elusive peace that everyone talks about but few experience, I suddenly became aware that there are many moments of missed solitude in the busiest life. For example, that first cup of coffee in the morning is a perfect time to sit in a comfortable chair, pause and, before anyone else gets up, to thank God for another day of life, to reflect on the coming day and to ask God’s help to live that day in God’s presence. It is also a time to be still and, beyond words, to allow the Living Waters of the Divine Indwelling to flow over us.
I have found that there are many other moments during the day to connect with the spiritual dimension instead of getting swallowed up in impatience and hectic restlessness. When we are waiting on long lines at the grocery store or especially in department stores, there are moments when we can either succumb to aggravation or remember that sacred, silent presence within.
Standing at a bus stop or subway station, looking for the train that never comes are other opportunities. The subway or bus ride itself is a good time for inner conversation with God or just simply being aware that God is present within us and the other passengers. We might also offer a simple inner prayer for those others. We can lift our minds to God during the commercials on TV.
Instead of lamenting the sorry state of the world that we all complain about, we can instead pray for the victims of disease, war, crime and poverty that we read and hear about. We can also pray for the perpetrators of many of the miseries we see around us.
Life itself, our lives, the lives of others in our broken world provide ample opportunities for prayer. In many instances, there is little we can do to bring peace, instead of pieces, into our world and our lives. But we do have the power, by our awareness and attitude, to open ourselves to the Prince of Peace and to become a channel of light in this Advent season.