December 15th, 2020
“Life in a prison cell may well be compared to Advent; one waits, hopes, and does this, that, or the other- things that are of no real consequence- the door is shut, and can be opened only from the outside.”
,Letters from Prison – November 21, 1943”
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer
“Into this world, this demented inn
in which there is absolutely no room for him at all,
Christ comes uninvited.”
― Thomas Merton
“At this Christmas when Christ comes, will He find a warm heart? Mark the season of Advent by loving and serving the others with God’s own love and concern.”
― Mother Teresa, Love: A Fruit Always in Season
Heidi called last night. She’s one of the teachers in the citizenship class at Voces de la Frontera. I’ve worked with her a lot over the years. A few weeks ago, I was studying in her class with an immigrant named Pedro. He took his citizenship yesterday. I was working with him intensively because his test was so soon, and because he really wasn’t ready for it. I tried to meet with him every other day to help him to learn the answers to the questions.
Then COVID hit.
I told Heidi about COVID erupting in our house. Then I told Pedro. Heidi took Pedro under her wing, even though she had many other students to teach in her class. I felt bad about abandoning Pedro, but I had no choice in the matter.
Anyway, Heidi called me last night. She was excited. She had asked me earlier if there was anything that she could do for us while we were all down with the virus. I had told her not to bother. We had plenty of food, and nobody wanted to eat anything anyway. COVID is a surprisingly effective diet program.
Heidi told me,
“I’m bringing you a meal! You just have to warm it up! I’m only five minutes away!”
I initially thought to protest, but then I said,
“Sure, come on by. I have the porch light on.”
I waited for Heidi to show up. I noticed a a car parked on the street two houses away from us. Then I heard Heidi talking with a neighbor. Then I saw her walking toward our home.
She shouted at me as she came nearer to the house.
“Pedro passed his test!”, and then she laughed.
She continued, “I didn’t know how he did it, but he passed!”
Heidi dumped the food on to our porch, and kept a safe and respectful distance from me.
I said, “Yeah, he’s like a god. He knows how succeed.”
Heidi said goodbye, and returned quickly to her vehicle. I dragged the supplies into the house.
Mother Teresa advised people to “Mark the season of Advent by loving and serving the others with God’s own love and concern.” Heidi needed to express that love. She really and truly wanted to love and serve us, and to do it in a concrete, physical way. I needed to allow her to do so. Love requires both giving and receiving. She needed to give. I needed to be vulnerable enough to receive.
Advent is about opening ourselves wide enough to allow God to become Incarnate. Are we making room for the Christ Child in our house? Well, I know that we are making room for a baby boy named Asher. He’s as close to a living, breathing Christ Child as we are likely to see. All of us in our house long to meet Asher. We can hardly wait. He won’t make it out of the NICU before Christmas, so our Advent will last a few weeks longer than that of most people. When he does arrive, we will open our door to him.
We have already opened our hearts.