Sunday strides are written based on the lectionary readings of the day from the Catholic Lectionary. A stride is a “step in progress towards an aim” – for me, a Sunday stride is another movement towards the greater. You can find this Sunday’s readings here.
When the lights came back on in the audiologist’s office, I noticed what a supreme mess my boys had made over the last two hours. Bright colored index cards folded into dozens of paper airplanes littered the floor. Markers and crayons were scattered amid the plane graveyard. “Boys, clean this mess up please while I talk to the audiologist,” I said. After being quiet for the last two hours, however, their little bodies were shaking with energy that could not be contained. I did my best to ask questions and hear answers over the bedlam.
I didn’t have many questions, though. I’ve been in this office a dozen times now, and I understand without asking what it means when she places a dot on the graph where each of my sons finally responded to the tiny beep in their ear. This time, I watched my third son’s test change from the last time we tested him a year ago. Now, all three of my boys demonstrate some degree of loss in their ears. Now, all three of them share more than just their almost identical looks. They all share in this mystery that is hearing loss.
When I first discovered my oldest son’s loss, I was determined to search for and find answers. I wanted to know exactly what would happen. Would he be fully deaf one day? Would he be able to get by with amplification from hearing aids? Where did this hearing loss come from? Was it something I did while pregnant? Some answers came, but many, many more remained a mystery. And as someone who likes to know EVERYTHING, as someone who is a planner who is not super excited about surprises, not knowing everything took a little getting used to.
In the Gospel today, Jesus is very clear “At an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.” This passage is part of a whole chapter in Matthew where Jesus teaches His disciples about patience, about waiting, about uncertainty. And today we begin a whole season based on anticipation and waiting. For the next four weeks, we will light candles, one after another, as we wait for Jesus to once again be born in a stable.
But man can patience be so difficult when one wants answers. I still can’t help wanting to know the trajectory of my children’s hearing. I want to know what the end point will be. However, that is impossible. With hearing loss, as with many things in life, you just never know. So, we go, every three to six months, and I sit in a darkened room and watch the dots on the graph either fall or stay the same… and I wait.
This first week of Advent isn’t just about harnessing our patience, however. Jesus said “So, too, must you also be prepared!” We can’t just sit, waiting in a darkened room wondering where the dots on the graph will move next – we have to be out in the world, living in hope.
As we begin this Advent season, I invite you to pray with me for the grace of hope and the grace to spread that hope to others as we wait in anticipation for the birth of our Lord at Christmas.
[This reflection can also be found at jcpfacultyblog.blogspot.com – a blog I edit for our faculty/staff during the Advent Season, check it out for daily reflections from unique voices from now until January 1st.]