By Frances Csarny
For a few weeks now, my room has been littered with gift bags, wrapping paper, bows, glitter, tape, scissors, boxes and shopping bags. ’Tis the Season thought, right? Time for shopping, baking, wrapping, since Christmas time is here…but is it? Stores have been telling us it’s Christmas since the middle of October before we even had the chance to get out our fall clothes and give thanks with our families. I’ve never been one for the grand commercialization of this season, but I have found myself getting sucked into finding the “right stuff” this Christmas season.
Being able to find a meaningful gift for friends and family has always excited me.
I love shopping for others, I truly do, but is this what I should be focused on in the week before Christmas?
It really isn’t the Christmas season yet—it’s Advent: the time to prepare for the way of the Lord. Jesus is coming, His birth is near! That’s glorious news, that is what I should be focused on. Annually during Advent when I attend Church, I am reminded to open my heart up to the coming of Christ and am challenged to find ways to make room for God.
As I go through today’s readings I am reminded of the strength and unwavering faith that women in the Bible display.
It is not often that the women in biblical times are given “the spotlight” so to speak, but when I do hear their stories, I am moved. In today’s first reading from Samuel, I am shown how humbly Hannah serves the Lord. Hannah gives up her only son to God, who she prayed for so long. Hannah is so faithful that she is willing to give a part of her heart up in gratitude for answered prayers. Though I am not a mother yet, I can say I would not be able to even imagine giving up my child to serve the Lord. This of course is an extreme act but it still allows the question of how I am serving the Lord to surface.
I do my best to think of each day as a prayer in motion.
I strive to find God in my daily routines, and ask for God to work through me as I tend to twenty three year olds each day. It’s pretty easy to have a full heart and mind when I am constantly consoling a hurt child, singing Disney tunes to the kids at snack, mediating an argument over a toy, dressing children to play outside in the snow, and giving and receiving hugs. There is so much joy and love in what I do, but like any job, it can be exhausting. I have found myself not allowing my daily actions to be done with the love of God flowing through me.
Rather than tending to my relationship with God this Advent, I have been concerning myself with the struggles of those around me. I usually start my prayers at night by thanking God. I thank God for the joys of my day and for the love that He shares with me unconditionally. Recently, I have not been sharing my gratitude with God. I have done more complaining and questioning than anything else. I have been questioning why I have family members who are continuing to suffer both physically and mentally. I have been questioning why there seem to be no answers. I have been yearning and praying for their faiths to remain strong and their healing. It seems selfish, but I have not made time for me.
I have not been nourishing my own connection with the Divine.
In the Gospel reading I find another devoted woman who loves the Lord with all her heart and proclaims that news. Mary says, “ My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior”. I know that whenever I take the time to be introspective I rejuvenate a part of my soul, it refreshes and delights me. I want to be able to share this news with others. I want to be ready for the arrival of our savior.
Advent may be coming to a close; but there is still time.
Open your heart to the Lord, I know I am going to try harder. I am ready to lift my voice high and sing to the heavens. Rejoice, Emmanuel will be here soon!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Frances is currently a PreSchool teacher in Bay Village, where she works with a group of loving, energetic, and busy three year olds. She is living in Lakewood and enjoying the excitement of the city of Cleveland. When Frances isn’t busy with children, she can be found spending time with her many cousins and friends. Frances enjoys collecting beach glass and lucky stones on the shores of Lake Erie throughout the year. She is trying to keep the art of letter writing alive by sending notes to friends and family in the mail.