Look Down – The Second Look of Advent

2nd Week of Advent

Our Journey 

As we continue our Advent journey, we are challenged to look deeper at our lives to make a home for Christ Jesus.  For the next weeks, I want to be focus on four different ways of looking at our lives.

  1. To look out
  2. To look down
  3. To look up
  4. To look in

This week we will review looking down.

Story

James rushed out the front door in his usual way.  He had a coffee in one hand, a doughnut in the other and his backpack tossed over his shoulder.  This is the James that all the neighbors knew and the one they loved at work.  James was always going through life at high speeds because he relied on a routine without thinking about alternatives.  James’ smiles and his pleasant attitude kept him going.   However, James was always one misstep from disaster.

So, on this particular morning, it happened.  As James pulled out of his housing area, he noticed construction signs all along his way to work.  The city decided to widen the road with a project that was estimated to take over a year.  James sat in his car like a prisoner.  Because he pushed everything to the brink, his stress level rose with every passing second.  James met with a huge “bump” in the road to work.  James’ routine was changed today and for the upcoming months.

Our Call to Look Down

Most of us follow patterns in our lives that lead us down similar paths.  Often, we are going on the same road.  So, when we look straight ahead in life, we become like James.  We don’t see problems coming and we are often caught by surprise.

This can happen in our spiritual journey as well.  We can have great patterns of prayer.  (For me these patterns are crucial to a successful prayer life.)  Patterns make a great plan, one I recommend to those who come to me for Spiritual Direction.  However, they too can have pitfalls.  Suppose we rely on our prayer book every morning to guide us through the richness of our Church’s prayer.  What happens when we lose the book?  Do we have other books?  Do we have other patterns or routes in our Spiritual journey?

That happened to me when I left my prayer book on an aircraft during a recent trip.  The airlines promised to look but they never recovered my Liturgy of the Hours.  However, I waited and for a short time my prayer life was a bit of a mess.  Like James, I never had a second plan.  I did not look down to see where the bumps in my spirituality might occur.

In this past Sunday’s gospel, St John the Baptist tells us, “Preparing the way of the Lord” means “making straight His paths.”  We can only make those paths straight if we look down and consider the state of the road we travel.  We certainly do not want a road full of potholes and bumps.  This would make sure our journey wasn’t pleasant, so that we would arrive in less than a good mood.

I suggest the we strengthen our paths with prayer.  Advent is a fantastic time to jumpstart our prayer life.  For many, it means slowing down and making our lives more contemplative.  This slowness allows us to hear God’s voice in different ways.  Are you ready to slow down and encounter God in a special way this Advent?  Can you find other ways to experience the unconditional love of Our Savior?  For those who are slow, try a faster pace.  However, most modern day people desperately need to slow down.

So, my brothers and sisters, look down, slow down and smell the roses.  You might even discover a few bumps, too.

For Your Reflection

From a Ministry Perspective:

  1. As you LOOK DOWN at the world surrounding those to whom you minister, what bumps and problems do you see in relationships with those in your ministry?
  2. What are the areas in which you feel most out of control with those you serve.  Are there problems or secrets that you need to bring to the Lord in prayer?

From a Domestic Church Perspective:

  1. As you LOOK DOWN at your Domestic Church, as parent, sibling, widow or single person, what bumps and problems do you see in relationships with those in your world and in your Domestic Church?
  2. What are the areas in which you feel most out of control with those in your Domestic Church.  Are there problems or secrets that you need to bring to the Lord in prayer?

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About the Author

Deacon Tom Frankenfield is a Permanent Deacon from the Archdiocese of Omaha who is currently serving the people of Mary Our Queen Parish in Omaha. He is a Spiritual Director, Retreat Master and noted speaker. For fun, he is a storyteller, potter, puppeteer, guitarist and poet. Deacon Tom is married and has three grown children and three amazing grandchildren.

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