An Advent of receptivity
Have you ever received a gift you weren't expecting? It was several weeks ago that I did, pulled aside from a group, surprised by a thoughtfulness I didn't deserve. I was tempted not to take it, well aware of my unworthiness, but also secretly delighted. This surprise giver had thought of me, noticed my interests, and offered a token of care, expecting no gift in return. So, accept it I did, and it’s been sitting on a shelf ever since, reminding me of its dear origin.
I’ve sort of slid into this Advent, as I often do, with some vague notion that I want to use it well, that I want to make more room for God, that I ought to prepare for His coming with a specified plan. But aside from a couple of small commitments with varying success (Hm—did I pray my rosary yesterday?), I have little to show for myself. And that’s just it. I have very little to give God; in fact, I have nothing to offer that He didn’t first bestow upon me. So instead, I’m going to treat this Advent as a time of great receptivity.
God is the ultimate giver. He’s a pursuer and lover, a brother and friend. And at Christmas, He comes to us a gift that we could never come close to matching. He comes to us in the humblest form—as a mere babe, in desperate need of being received. He gives us His littleness, reminding us of our own, gallantly hiding His grandeur so as to draw us into an unprecedented intimacy with Him. He gave Himself first to Mary, who kept Him, as she did her whole life long. She said, Yes, Lord, I receive this gift. I receive You on behalf of Your entire creation. How necessary that simple and world-altering yes was for us all. It was a yes that allowed Him into our sorry state, come to meet us shoulder to shoulder, never ceasing to make Himself a gift.
It’s this Advent that God is teaching me to receive. I’m learning to lean into my unworthiness, finding that it leads me to relish all the more in what He has to give. I’m learning to approach Him with the quiet expectancy of Mary, and the passionate desire of a lover. I come to Him sometimes with grand gestures, more often with meager offerings, and, ultimately, with nothing, really. But all He asks is that I receive. He asks that I honor His generosity with an open heart, with ample room, with a ready shelf to tuck away the treasures He grants. Not to be hidden, no—but to return to time and time again so that I may recall His wondrously intimate love for me.