Advent Day 5: December 6th
Listening Past Our Expectations

Nothing is what we expected it to be. This was the consensus of several women who were telling their stories. Marriage and raising children were different from what anyone anticipated. Women religious [nuns] agreed that community life was a surprise. Expectations and reality are often very dissimilar.

I remember waiting once to be met in an airport. The person who had agreed to pick me up was apparently delayed. I stood near the baggage claim scanning faces. Eventually all the baggage was claimed, and the only person left was a young man who was obviously waiting for someone he couldn't find, either. We stood side by side for five minutes, watching the doors. I finally asked him how long a cab ride it would be to my destination, and I named the church. He looked at me, stunned. There I was, standing beside my ride. But he had created an image of me (and what he thought I would look like) that didn't fit my appearance.

I think about the way our expectations dominate our faith and especially how they dominate the Christmas story. Its familiarity renders it almost impossible to hear with a new, radical listening, the way it needs to be heard. We know the "ending," so we impose that on the listening. What a challenge to hear it as if for the first time, letting the story of hope cause everything in us to change.

by Paula D'Arcy, Redbird Foundation
from the book: Daybreaks