This week Fr. Charlie Bolser, C.S.V. shares his reflections on the readings for the First Sunday of Advent.

Advent is a time of anticipation – of waiting anxiously. We see this sign on the faces of children, small and large—are we there yet? We get caught up in these stressful moments of life when we run as fast as we can and filled with impatience reach the finish line exhausted and unsure of just what we gained. I am reminded of a story written many years ago by Robert J. Hastings.

Tucked away in our subconscious is an idyllic vision. We see ourselves on a long trip that spans the continent. We are traveling by train. Out our windows we drink in the passing scene of cars on nearby highways, of children waving at a crossing, of cattle grazing on a distant hillside, of smoke pouring from a power plant, of row upon row of corn and wheat, of flatlands and valleys, of mountains and rolling hillsides, of city skylines and village halls. But uppermost in our minds is the final destination. On a certain day at a certain hour, we will pull into the station. Bands will be playing and flags waving. Once we get there so many wonderful dreams will come true and the pieces of our lives will fit together like a completed jigsaw puzzle. How restlessly we pace the aisles, damning the minutes for loitering-waiting-waiting for the station.

Advent is a time of anticipation – of waiting anxiously. We see this sign on the faces of children, small and large—are we there yet? We get caught up in these stressful moments of life when we run as fast as we can and filled with impatience reach the finish line exhausted and unsure of just what we gained. I am reminded of a story written many years ago by Robert J. Hastings.

Tucked away in our subconscious is an idyllic vision. We see ourselves on a long trip that spans the continent. We are traveling by train. Out our windows we drink in the passing scene of cars on nearby highways, of children waving at a crossing, of cattle grazing on a distant hillside, of smoke pouring from a power plant, of row upon row of corn and wheat, of flatlands and valleys, of mountains and rolling hillsides, of city skylines and village halls. But uppermost in our minds is the final destination. On a certain day at a certain hour, we will pull into the station. Bands will be playing and flags waving. Once we get there so many wonderful dreams will come true and the pieces of our lives will fit together like a completed jigsaw puzzle. How restlessly we pace the aisles, damning the minutes for loitering-waiting-waiting for the station.

“When we reach the station, that will be it!” we cry. “When I’m 18.” “When I buy a new 450SL Mercedes Benz!” “When I get a promotion!” “When I put the last kid through college.” “When I have paid off the mortgage.” “When I reach the age of retirement, I shall live happily ever after!” Sooner or later, we must realize there is no station, no one place to arrive at once and for all. The true joy of life is the trip. The station is only a dream. It constantly outdistances us. It isn’t the burdens of today that drive people mad. It is the regrets over yesterday and the fears of tomorrow. Regret and fear are twins who rob us of today.

“So, stop pacing the aisles and counting the miles. Instead, climb more mountains, eat more ice cream, go barefoot more often, swim more rivers, watch more sunsets, laugh more, cry less. Life must be lived as we go along. The station will come soon enough.”

The Good News of Jesus is that the Holy Spirit of God’s love is alive and well within all of creation, coming to be. That spirit is therefore alive and well within you and me. We need to take the time to open our eyes and to understand that indeed we are already there – we just don’t understand it yet. We need to take the time to relax and look around – God has come alive in the world and lives in us – within all that is and has been and is yet to be. Advent is an opportunity to take the time to look carefully around and within as see God come alive; to hear God speaking to us in the voices of love everywhere. Listen to the Silent Night when the whispering voice of God comes alive in your heart.