Monday, December 3, 2012

That Advent

In my recent post about "the call," I wrote this of my college (and college-age) years: "My attendance at Sunday Mass drifted from "regular" to "occasional," and I stopped praying altogether.  Yet God still had a way of popping into my mind at unexpected times.  At twenty one, I began to feel a renewed interest in faith and went back to attending Mass on a weekly basis..."

Not wanting to lengthen the brief sketch, I left out the part between "unexpected times" and "at twenty one."  This "left out part" was actually quite a pivotal time in my life; a span of weeks when major changes began developing.  These seemed subtle at the time.  A song heard on the radio, a bell rung by a Main Street Santa; Baby Jesus on a Christmas card....

It was the season of Advent.

I was in my "God doesn't bother me and I don't bother Him" phase.  There was, you see, so much to do.  Friends to hang out with, boys to date, parties to go to, skirts that had be found to match the sweaters that matched the stockings that went with the shoes. No time to think of what was happening outside my seemingly limitless snowglobe world.  Certainly no time to think about God.

But it seems, that Advent, that God was thinking of me.

It was a string of little things.  "O Come O Come Emmanuel," in Latin, caught on the radio... I hadn't expected that and it touched me.  There was another song as well, one I'd never before heard, that sang of "Jesus the Savior," and when I heard His Name, well ... something just.... happened.  Like a gentle thawing in my heart.  I couldn't explain it.  I wouldn't have admitted it.  I didn't understand it.

Trying to go about my normal life, I found Him popping in.  Like when I selected Christmas cards to send, and found my normal humorous picks unappealing.  Even Santas and elves left me cold.  I chose instead a painting of Baby Jesus on a bed of straw, holding a lamb, against a gray background.  It may have been the plainest, simplest greeting card ever made, and I absolutely loved it.  I even had a few tears as I signed my name to the cards.  I didn't understand that, either.

At the very beginning of this "season," God got my attention in a way that I found (if I let myself think about it) particularly unusual.  I wrote about this just over a year ago, in a post I called Before the First Bell.  A foreshadowing of the cloistered heart idea?  Certainly it seems, now, to be so. 

The fruit of that possible foreshadowing, and the Advent following right upon it, was excellent.  I once again went to Sunday Mass on a regular basis.  A few months later, I met the young Catholic man who would become my husband.  And all I can say now is:  I'm glad God had a way of popping into my mind.  I'm glad He chose to "bother me," even (especially) in unexpected times.

I am so thankful for that Advent.

Painting:  Anders Zorn, Vallkulla detail, US public domain