I remember as though it was yesterday… Our neighborhood UPS driver interrupted dinner. When I went to the door, this consistently polite gentleman greeted me with a peculiar smile. He handed me a very small, flat package which I eagerly accepted. I wondered if Mr. UPS smiled because of the package’s size or because he somehow knew that I’d been waiting eagerly for this particular delivery. I told him as much as I returned his smile and offered my thanks. On my way back to the kitchen table, I quickly opened the cardboard envelope. “It’s my proof!” I announced as I stared at the little yellow book in my hands. The joy I felt at that moment is indescribable. I can tell you that it filled me up from head to toe, front to back, inside and outside. I’d written this little book years ago. My nephew, Ralph, had drawn the illustrations for me. Though I had a classroom-size copy made which I read to my students many times over the years, I’d never gotten around to having the book published. Finally seeing this work in print absolutely overwhelmed me.
While my husband put down his fork to peruse the book, I looked over his shoulder. As Mike thumbed through the pages, I realized that there were errors in the copy. “Oh brother!” I remarked. “They printed the wrong file.” I set the book aside while we finished dinner. As we ate, I found myself staring at the cover again and again, unable to contain my smile. Though there were flaws to correct, I treasured this tiny volume. A week later, when the final proof arrived, I happily inspected its shiny yellow cover. I checked every page and then approved the copy for print. Afterward, I placed the new proof on my desk under the original. After all, it was the original proof that brought me that amazing joy, and I was reluctant to file it away.
This Fourth Sunday of Advent, I find that my little yellow book adventure hints at God’s work among us during Advent and always. Do you remember the Creation Story? God’s love is so great that it overflowed into a universe filled with beauty and wonder. Still, this material expanse wasn’t enough. God went on to fashion creatures great and small to roam this earth. Though the microbes and insects, fish and whales, cows, dinosaurs and dogs enhanced life on this planet, love impelled God to create souls capable of receiving the love that began it all. God rejoiced in the possibilities that lay ahead. Genesis 1:31 tells us, “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.” If I treasure my flawed little book, what must God feel about us –the work of God’s hands?
My little book adventure hints at more. Do you remember what occurred after Creation? Though we and the world around us are the fruit of God’s love, from the very beginning humankind managed to distort that love at every turn. Adam and Eve ate of the single forbidden tree in the garden. Their son Cain killed his brother Abel. As God’s children multiplied, so did our sinfulness. The good news is that God responded to every new generation of transgressions with opportunities to begin anew once again. God considered all of creation to be very good at the beginning of time. God’s opinion of creation and of you and me remains intact today. If I cannot bring myself to discard the flawed version of my little book, can God discard any one of us more easily?
Only a few days of Advent remain, and there is much to do before Christmas. In spite of the length of your errand list, please join me in adding just one more item. At the very top, write G-O-D. Now, every time you look at the list, while waiting in line, driving to the next store or pumping another tank of gas, think of the One at the top of your list because you’re at the top of God’s list. Regardless of what does and does not get accomplished this week, God will look upon you with pride. Whether you’re shopping for a family member or someone in need, God will look upon you with appreciation. If you manage the holidays well because life is good or simply because you’ve set aside your worries for a while, God will look upon you with admiration. Most importantly, even when you and I forget the One at the top of our lists, God looks upon us with admiration and with great love. So it is that we make the best of these last days of Advent. We give God joy from head to toe, front to back, inside and outside, and God’s affection overflows into our hearts. It’s up to us to let this love overflow from our hearts onto those we’ve been given to love. What a perfect way to celebrate the coming of Christmas!
©2011 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved
Adapted from SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT… FOR CHRISTMASTIME AND WINTER DAYS