Pam and I have spent the past five days with our grandchildren. At seven and three, they can wear you out with their requests. They wake up wanting. They wish fervently for things and dream of happiness in the ultimate. “Papa,” my grandson will say, “if you could have any plane in the world [he’s clearly into planes], what would it be?” I stumble to reply, but not he: “The Ford Trimotor!”
The day we set aside to make and decorate gingerbread houses, at 6:30 a.m. our granddaughter is trembling and jumping in anticipation.
That childish delight is like a drug for older people. We get a vicarious, endorphinous rush. It’s one reason so many adults live through children at Christmas or re-live their own childhood. Anything to get the feeling back.
That’s not all bad. Children can remind us how to want something with all our hearts.
And that wholehearted longing is the essence of Advent. “Come, thou long expected Jesus.” If Christmas is about joy, Advent is about yearning. Imagine that child asking you, “If you could have anything in the world, what would it be?” Like me, you may stumble at that. Advent offers a period of profound reflection, long enough to get beyond the surface wants and needs that monopolize our daily attention, down into the deepest longings of the human heart. The desire for wholeness, to be fully known, the need to love and be loved, to have a purpose in life, to matter to at least one other soul. The longing to be freed from our fears and anxieties, to be able give our lives for something eternal before we die. This is where Advent takes us.
Deep reflection invariably brings us to hopes too big for our little souls. Then, all we can do is cry out, like the voices of all those Advent hymns and Psalms and ancient stories, for God to come and make us whole, make us right. If you are lucky enough to be in the presence of a little child this year, she can teach you how to want something with all your heart. Just watch.
So true! Thank you for these words, David. Peace, Johnna
“The desire for wholeness, to be fully known, the need to love and be loved, to have a purpose in life, to matter to at least one other soul.”
Sandy Oldfield says
Our grandchildren are with us this week and we made a gingerbread house for our winter solstice tea party today. SUCH anticipation was lovely to behold! Thank you for framing our precious day.
Cathy House says
“Children can remind us how to want something with all our hearts.” Yes! This very week I was noticing the anticipation in children, the excitement, the way they run everywhere! I jokingly asked my husband, “Wouldn’t it be something if adults ran everywhere like kids do? God didn’t make us that way, but we can “want something with all our hearts” – a heart for God. Thank you for sharing your Advent inspiration.
Robin Fisher says
Thank you David,
On this day our little baby grand girl will be week old.
The wait taught me almost everything you mentioned.
She due in early January, but mom had to induced because of high blood pressure. When Holly Anne was born, I wept of tears of joy, delight and surprise. My whole weekend has been a wonderful roller coaster with the Holy Spirit sitting right next to me.
I have received the best Christmas gift I could ever imagine. By the baby and mom are doing fine.
Finding my soul