After ringing the Salvation Army bell for an hour, my ears were literally ringing. Standing outside Walmart on the biggest shopping weekend of the year, you see all manner of people. I’ve gone to Walmart countless times, but I’m always there with my own list of things to buy. When you’re just staying in one spot, watching people come and go, you notice some of what’s inside the heavy-laden carts being pushed out of the store.
I saw six-foot artificial Christmas trees somehow packed into extremely small boxes; lots of colorful plastic toys; glitter-covered decorations… But during a rare moment of stillness, I thought of how, at first glance, it’s all noise and the usual trappings of the season.
But on closer inspection, the love becomes visible.
You see people who probably have very little, putting money into the kettle. Grandparents buying toys, anticipating the smiles on the faces of their grandchildren. People trying to make their homes festive and comfortable for holiday company.
It is possible to be still, even standing in front of a Walmart on a busy shopping day.
Maybe that would be a good intention to set this Advent, as we prepare our hearts to receive our Savior once again. Just to be still. Every day, throughout the day. I’m not talking about going off into a room by yourself for an hour (although you can if you want!). Being still can literally mean just a split second of awareness, in the midst of shopping, when you reconnect to the motivation of finding a gift that will draw a smile—that will let the receiver know you care. Or as you’re writing out all those holiday cards, when you realize how blessed you are to have so many friends in the world. When you’re cooking a complicated meal, feeling harried, but then you remember that the reason you’re doing it is because you love the people who are coming to the table.
There is a very small shift in perspective that can change everything. And it can bring a sense of stillness, a measure of peace, into all the little moments that come together to make up our days. Think of it as opening your eyes just a little wider to see what God sees every time he looks at us. Don’t let the season slip by only seeing what’s on the surface when there’s so much more underneath. You might miss the holiness in your neighbor’s quirky lit-up nativity scene. Or the blessing in that darn fruitcake your aunt always sends. Or the sound of angels singing in the voices of a children’s choir. Or the miracle of a person putting a couple of quarters into a bucket outside of Walmart on a busy shopping day.
This Advent, prepare Him room. Open your eyes, and wonder at the faith of children. At the fact that even though there is a battle going on here, the Good is winning. At the glory of creation and the even greater glory of the one who made it all and still walks among us every single day. There is so much cause to rejoice! Love has come.