On Advent nesting
I love babies. Really, really love them. So it helps that there are quite a few of them in my life. I’ve got friends with chunky six-month-olds, and friends with little newborns that came early. I’ve got friends who are in their early stages of pregnancy, and friends who are due any day now. It’s a joy. But you know when I especially love these little ones? When I’m particularly in awe of the miracle of pregnancy and birth? During Advent.
Jesus came as a baby. A baby! A mewling, needy, fragile infant. I just love to ponder His humanity, to call to mind His hiddenness as He grew for nine months in Mary’s womb. And I love, too, to think of Mary, His Mother and ours, cherishing and awaiting and dreaming of the little life inside of her. Preparing the way of the Lord. Nesting.
Now, I realize that, just after the moment of Jesus’ incarnation, she went with haste to visit Elizabeth. She traveled from Nazareth to the hill country, an estimated journey of 80 to 100 miles. And I know, too, that she and Joseph departed from their home again to travel to Bethlehem, an unfamiliar land, only to give birth in a stable. So, she wasn’t exactly folding onesies and sweeping every corner and supervising Joseph’s carpentry projects for the new baby as they waited in the comfort of their home. But surely she underwent a much deeper preparation, a spiritual nesting. And so must we.
“You might wake up one morning feeling energetic and wanting to clean and organize your entire house,” reads americanpregnancy.org. “Nesting during pregnancy is the overwhelming desire to get your home ready for your new baby.” Perhaps it’s silly to compare myself to a pregnant woman during the season of Advent, but I believe there’s at least a glimmer of truth here. Ultimately, I do want to do everything I can to prepare my home—my soul, my heart, my life—for the coming of Jesus.
This Sunday’s gospel points to John the Baptist, who “appeared in the desert proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” (Mark 1:4) This is a time to ready ourselves for the coming of Jesus, not just at Christmas, but at the end of time. We ought to awaken and sharpen our consciences, clear away our sinful tendencies and prepare the way for Him. To spiritually clean and organize our entire house: our thoughts, words, actions.
An expectant mother and father await a complete transformation of life as they know it. We, too, have the opportunity to let Jesus transform our lives. While we may not be invited to start forgoing sleep and altering our schedules and catering to another’s every need as new parents do, this is a season to make more time in our days for Jesus. Perhaps that does mean waking up earlier, or building in time for silent prayer and reflection, or spending a little less time looking at screens.
And then there’s dreaming. “I am very fond of dreams in families,” Pope Francis once said. “For nine months every mother and father dream about their baby. They dream about what kind of child he or she will be. You can’t have a family without dreams.” Just as Mary and Joseph must have dreamt of their lives with Jesus to come, we too ought to dream of what life could be if we let Jesus in in a new way. Could I trust Him radically like never before? Could He give me the generosity of heart that I so desperately need? Could I begin to share Him with new boldness, new zeal? I want to dream big. I want my life to change, and that change is entirely possible with Jesus. At hand, even.
So, there’s my hope for us all in this season of wondrous expectation. Let us nest. Let us allow Jesus to grow and grow in us. And let every heart prepare Him room.