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To understand the nature of my best gift, it might be good to know a bit about me. Some might say I’m driven. Others might say I am a Type A personality. Others would say I don’t know how to say “No.” When Lent comes around, instead of giving up chocolate or something, I take on a new discipline like an online group reading the New Testament in Greek. So, my Advent season is usually so full that listening for the still, small voice is relegated to the still, dark hours of the night. I’m so busy doing that I neglect being.
Into that crazy, hectic world came an unexpected and unwelcome gift. One day, I did my usual serious squat routine. Two days later, it was uncomfortable to bend my knee, three days after that, I was in excruciating pain, eagerly awaiting the hour I could take the next pain pill, knowing that I had a tumor in my knee that had to be removed. When the surgeon warned me that this is not a simple knee replacement and that I should not compare my recovery to those of knee replacement patients, I thought in terms of a couple of months. I fully expected that I would be in good shape by Christmas. I knew it would be difficult to rehearse for the Colorado Symphony’s Too Hot to Handel in November, but I would surely be able to sing the performances just before Christmas.
Gradually, I came to realize that this Advent season might be very different. Many of the things that I considered preparation for Christmas were simply impossible.
Advent 2018 is here. I will not be baking cookies for the bake sale at my credit union. I will not be singing Too Hot to Handel or many of the other holiday concerts that usually fill my schedule. I will not be wrapping presents at 3:00 am, or 3:00pm for that matter. There will be grueling physical therapy sessions, pain, and a lot of ice and elevation.
So what about that unexpected and unwelcome gift?
It is still an unexpected gift, but it is no longer unwelcome. The gift is time, the gift is permission to say no to all the things I thought were so important last Advent and every Advent I can remember, the gift is the opportunity to actually wait and listen for the still, small voice that announces an event that shattered expectations, that asks us to make room. This year, I’m forced to give up the things that keep me too busy to really wonder what is coming and what it means. And, in this case, being forced to slow down is the best gift I could imagine. This year, my Advent can be a time of waiting and contemplation, a time to listen and discern. I think that is one of the best gifts ever.
Deborah Sampson is a member of Good Shepherd, Centennial. She serves on the High Plains Executive Committee.