Elizabeth Barrett Browning once wrote: “The earth is crammed with heaven and every bush is on fire with God. But only those who see this take off their shoes; the rest of us sit around and pluck blackberries.”
As we savor a time of gratitude this weekend, we begin the Advent journey of faith anew. With stomachs filled from a plentiful feast, imaginations filled with great anticipation, hearts filled of gracious thankfulness, and souls a bit uncertain for what lies ahead, we advance. Plucking blackberries is symbolic of our daily labor which, of course, is necessary to our livelihood and supportive of those we love. Yet we know that, from time to time, we must step out of the ordinary routine of our existence to ponder something greater. We do this because our purpose in life is more than plucking blackberries; we find meaning by trekking into the presence of God and walking with holy people of faith, starting with the prophets that foretold Christ’s coming and Joseph and Mary who received Him for the world’s salvation.
As we walk with them toward Bethlehem, the House of Bread, we should realize that just as important as our destination is making the most of experiences along the way and recognize that the earth is crammed with heaven, as many things in the path we trod are on fire with God’s loving grace. Just as Moses removed his shoes before the burning bush, we must strip away our material dependencies as means to avail ourselves to spiritual enlightenment. Laid in a manger, a trough in which animals are fed, He offered Himself as the Bread of Life, ultimate nourishment for all creation and sustenance for us along the journey.
As in years past, I suggest a simple spiritual exercise for you to undertake in the season falling upon us this weekend. Become an Advent Angel. To be one, just list twenty to twenty-five little acts of love on separate strips of paper and put them into your holiday stocking. Draw one each day between now and Christmas; when you have completed the task you wrote, add the strip of paper to the straw in your Nativity Creche as extra padding for the infant to find comfort. The tasks are your own creation. For example, contact an old friend with whom you haven’t spoken for a long time, visit an elderly neighbor or relative, apologize for an offense you’ve been holding onto, reach out to a lonely coworker or acquaintance, go caroling, send holiday greetings, spend an hour in adoration at your church, bring cheer to a child in your life, spend time with someone who is sick or suffering, make a charitable contribution… You alone will determine your angelic possibilities. It is another way of taking off our shoes and recognizing something greater that lies before us—and it will help pave the path to Christmas.
Finally, I want to report on our Saint Charles Borromeo Academy Fifth (and final) Prayer Luncheon. Our goal is to reach $100,000 by the end of November (Giving-Tuesday) to provide scholarships for underprivileged families. To date, we have raised $37, 412.00 and will be given a matching reward donation if we raise $50,000. If you can help us raise the $12,588 needed to reach the match, we will achieve our goal. Thank you for being on fire with God’s charitable grace and thank you for whatever assistance you and your family are able to give to the less fortunate this holiday season.