I love to know ahead of time when company is coming. I am a lazy person by nature and don’t always have my house “company ready.” Something I think would be great, would be to to throw open the door with pride and allow someone to see my gleaming home.
But if you drop in unannounced (and if you are in the neighborhood, I hope you do!) don’t expect too much. You will see the piles of books, the half-finished projects, and clean laundry in baskets, unfolded (the dirty laundry, I try to hide!) . Hopefully those dishes won’t be in the sink. You will likely see the computer, smack in the middle of the living room, left on someone’s blog where I got interrupted for everyday life. That is my reality.
But if you call me (maybe) I might be able to make sure the vacuuming is done, the bathrooms are cleaned, just maybe those pesky dishes will be put away and it is possible I might have something more than coffee, tea and my favorite butter cookies for a snack.
It is possible.
Preparing takes a lot of work, but given the chance it is a joy to offer hospitality to our friends and family.
There are two times of preparation during the liturgical year, Advent and Lent. Both are times of spiritual housecleaning, if you will. Times to prepare our heart for the glorious feasts of Christmas and Easter/Resurrection Sunday. Time to renew our hearts and return to the One who loves us more deeply and more perfectly than any love we find in humanity.
The times of preparation are great gifts to us. We are given time to prepare. The arrival date is announced. Company is coming! Clean out the cobwebs of sin and indifference. Wash the windows of our soul. Even though we have welcomed Him into our hearts before, we have a chance to renew the joy of our first experience, our first love for the Maker of the Universe. The Maker of us, the one who knew us in the womb.
During Advent we prepare with joy for the coming of the Christ Child, The Price of Peace the Son of God, King of Kings, all wrapped in one tiny little being of an infant. What a beautiful mystery and what a joy.
We all know that the stable was likely to have been cold and the smells of the animals was heavy in the air, it was likely dusty or muddy. But it is a moment, for us, of joy. I think that is why we often drape the Holy Family in white or gold or lovely impractical colors in our nativity—our small gift to the Infant Jesus; our gift we weren’t there to bring over 2000 years ago. Advent is a path to rejoicing. We decorate our houses and prepare a birthday celebration.
Lent, too, is a path to rejoicing. Even more glorious than Advent, Lent culminates in Easter, Resurrection Sunday, the Victory over death and sin.
But to get to Easter we mush pass through a dark valley of Good Friday/Passover, Holy Saturday, the day of darkness and lingering doubt for the apostles, the quiet, quiet waiting.
In the 40 days of Lent we confront why it was necessary for our Savior, the One who knew no sin to suffer for all our sins; to die the painful death we, not He, deserved. He allowed Himself to be totally stripped of His glory, that we may be grafted in to the Vine, that we may someday join Him in heaven.
Lent for me offers an ugly mirror to clean. Oh, if someone looked at my life they could say, I could say, there aren’t BIG sins there. You know, the sins that land you in prison, the sins and scandals that make the headlines.
But that mirror is dark and shabby, smoky and dirty from all the little, petty offenses. And sometimes it is easier to sweep those under the rug and forget that they, too, are the cause of the lashes of the whip, the gouges of the thorns, the hammering of the nails
The rug needs more than vacuuming. The carpets need torn up and replaced. Cobwebs are clinging to the walls. Those dishes are still in the sink.
Company is coming. I need to get busy and prepare.