“It is the hour now for you to awake from sleep.”
If you go to South Philly, one of the central spots where everybody gathers (locals, tourists, etc…) is the corner of 9th Street and Passyunk Avenue (home of Geno’s and Pat’s Steaks). If you go to Berwyn during the summer (and weekends during the winter) THE central spot where everybody gathers (locals, tourists, etc…) is Handels Ice Cream. I read that, in St. Louis, a place like that exists as well. It is a custard stand named Ted Drewes. Many people think of Ted Drews as the heart of the city although it’s not actually near the center of the city. It is THE place people gather on summer days.
In the evening, literally hundreds of hungry folks gather outside the many serving windows of this old timey place, waiting in line for a chance at the tasty stuff in all its variations (“Crater Copernicus, “Concrete, St. Louis Cardinal Sin” and so on). A commentator wrote that one evening he even saw a just-married couple pull up in a horse-drawn buggy, wearing their formal wedding clothes, and order frozen custard (with the obligatory pictures being snapped), and then go on to their honeymoon.
The funny thing is that no one in line is in a hurry. They talk, they enjoy the weather, they enjoy being in “the” place. If someone is needy, that person can cut into line and no one cares. These folks seem to have turned waiting into a social affair, a time of lingering patiently together.
Advent is all about that. Turning the act of waiting into a social affair – a time of lingering patiently together. Father Ronald Rolheiser calls this a type of “Advent Intelligence,” of “being awake.” It is a sensitivity to the deeper contours within life. Jesuit Priest, Fr. John Foley, S.J. suggests that that If we stay in the present instead of mainly the future or the past, we find a subtle yet real, not-so-obvious, and God-filled beauty all about us. The texture of the steering wheel. The colors of the trees. The people in other cars—visible as you travel slowly at six miles-per-hour north on US 202 in front of the King of Prussia Shopping Center.
Your goal will arrive when its time comes. Meanwhile, the present tense is still happening. God broke into this present time “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us.” God continues to break into “this time” and it is within the present moment that we can be continually refilled.
Waiting for fulfillment can also be fulfilling. But this doesn’t just happen – waiting has to be intentional. Do nothing: set your watch for 3:00 and, when the alarm goes off, just stop for 30 seconds and do nothing. Go slower: stay in the left-hand-lane on the highway and drive 55-65 mile-per-hour instead of 65-75 for 10 miles. Be silent: 5 minutes before the hour and 7 minutes afterwards is nothing but commercials anyway. Turn the radio off for those 12 minutes.
Intentionally building these cracks into the day allows the Holy Spirit to “break in.” See what type of Advent miracle the Lord brings during those moments.
Audio version of the homily is here: