As I pushed my overflowing cart full of stuff through the narrow aisle, something got in my way. I became annoyed at the slow moving couple in front of me. I desperately wanted to go around them but there was no where to go with all the Christmas merchandise jammed onto the shelves, so I simply took a deep breath until I reached the store exit. When I did, my annoyance turned to shame as I watched an elderly gentleman slowly help his aging wife with her coat. It was quite an effort but with patient love, the task was completed in a most dignified way.
I walked out of the store feeling ashamed of my impatience and haste. I had almost missed a beautiful moment – a Christmas moment of hope, when the infant Jesus’ birth becomes real through a profound act of love.
Walking through the woods near my home provides me with an opportunity to quietly enter into a conversation with God about all the things going on in my life. As I travel along the winding paths, I hear his voice in my heart through the rustle of the tall trees, the crunch of the leaves upon my feet, and the whistle of the wind between the nooks and crannies of an uninhabited place of beauty. It is here where I am most able to offer myself to him along with my best intentions for living the life he created me to live. Unfortunately, I am not always able to fulfill my promises when I return to the real world with it’s many issues and problems. This sincerely frustrates me. Everyday issues like constant back pain, a late teenager or an overwhelmingly busy schedule can test my patience and cause me to act less than ideal.
But my encounter with the elderly couple made me pause and really think about how I could do better in my day to day existence. Their simple act of love and patience in the midst of a chaotic shopping center was an example for not only me but all of us who struggle with patience sometimes. The thing that stood out to me is that they made a choice to prioritize each other – thus patience came naturally when love was the order of the day. When we love another, like this couple, I suppose that we are less likely to be impatient or skeptical. We are more willing to give freely from all we have and put the good of that person before our own. God gives us free will so the choice is up to us. We must make a decision to be patient and loving – especially in situations that are frustrating and annoying. This is the real test for all of us – especially during the busy Christmas season. Will we decide to make the right decision?
Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.Psalm 27:14
Perhaps we can challenge ourselves during the month of December to really think about living with more love and patience (as my beloved mom always did). Maybe if we pray first, our actions will be more pleasing to us and those around us. Bishop Barron shared the importance of being patient, “St. James reminds us that an essential element of the Christian life is waiting. As the farmer waits for the precious yield of the earth, so the believer waits while Christ does his mysterious work in the world. Thus we must learn the virtue of patient expectation.” As we await the birth of the infant babe born on a frigid winter night, let us choose to do so with an increase of love and patience. Our renewed hearts will therefore welcome the Prince of Peace in a new and beautiful way on Christmas Day. Happy Advent everyone.