The arrival of Advent marks the beginning of the church year, anchored on the fourth Sunday before Christmas. In the year of our Lord 2020 the date is November 29th.
The word itself is from the Latin word ‘veni’–adventus–coming; the cornerstone of the Advent season is the idea of making room for God to come. It is a time of waiting, as Mary did, with the impossible promise that a Saviour would be born, the miracle of light coming to a dark world.
What does that have to do with refrigerators? Let me share.
Several Novembers ago we ordered new kitchen appliances. Everything started when the microwave died. This led to a conversation about the refrigerator which had been humming its way loudly to a definite motor-y end. We dug out the paperwork and discovered it was 17 years old.
Here’s a photo of our kitchen on Thanksgiving 2000, one year after we got it, all brand spanking new. That’s my daughter Leah the chef basting the turkey. (And no, I will not talk about the psychedelic flooring.)
After a thorough appliance reconnoiter, husband and I decided to join the Black Friday crowds and head to Home Depot to shop the sales. Four hours later, we had ordered for the first time in our 35 plus years of being married, a matching fridge, dishwasher, microwave and range. In stainless steel. We are so de rigueur.
Maybe my dear readers are already aware of what such a purchase entails, but I don’t think we considered exactly how arduous ‘out with the old, in with the new’ would be under such circumstances. The ensuing chores involved five hours of cleaning of stove and frig–outsides only–and cleaning of the floors underneath. I was appalled at the debris and gunk on the sides of our range. I blame 16 years of coffee prep. And under the frig? I will also not talk about that.
I had been notified via my daughter in our Thanksgiving conversations a few nights’ previous that magnets do not stick to stainless steel. Oh. I did not know that. Well, there go the grandkids’ photos and artwork. There go my magnets from Laguna Beach and Yosemite, my favorite of Lucy and Ethel at the chocolate factory, Scripture cards, quotes I liked. A veritable bulletin board available 24/7, reminding me constantly of All the Things.
People, places, Bible verses, photographs. Football schedules, equivalent baking measures, an encyclopedia of input and information. It would all have to go.
So, empty box in hand, I swept the surface clean and windexed it to its glorious, brand-new, former self.
My words are a paltry representation of the change that came over me after that clean sweep. Every time I walked into the kitchen I literally breathed a peaceful sigh. Husband and I remarked many times throughout the next day at how pleased we were with the empty space, that it seemed quieter in the kitchen because all the noise on the fridge was gone.
Here’s what I realized: surrounded 24/7 with visual input had driven me to distraction. I spend a lot of time in our kitchen area and when the wide expanse of the refrigerator front presented some breathing room, I reveled in its beauty. The added breathing room flowed into a spaciousness extending to the decluttering of kitchen counters and drawers. Ahhhhh…..
I thought about Mary’s pregnancy and wondered if she started ‘nesting’ before Jesus was born. I imagined her flurry of organization and beautifying, painting the nursery, cleaning the floor, preparing the room where He would sleep when He came home. Of course, that’s only my imagination; I’m pretty sure Jesus didn’t have a room of his own.
The impending arrival of our new appliances seemed a fitting metaphor for the season. I am desperate to hear from God, to make room for his answers in my life, grateful for a soul-deep clearing out to welcome Him.
Like the birth of the Christ Child to come, the answers I seek for all that concerns me may arrive in an unexpected package. But now that I’ve made a way to see, preparing room with the physical space has allowed an emptying in the best way, that I might be ready to receive His word to me.
I can sit in this season when the world around me is physically gray and dark, but I look forward to the Light to come. How about you, friends? What are you making room for today?