By Barb Arland-Fye
The Catholic Messenger
Running behind last Friday morning, I hopped into my car and prepared to drive away. Except the keys were missing! I looked everywhere inside the vehicle without success. For the next 40 minutes, my husband Steve and I searched our house to try to find the keys but came up emptyhanded. Fortunately, we had an extra set of car keys. But the missing set also contained my office keys, which do not have duplicates! I prayed that the keys would show up somewhere at home.
Without office keys, I had to park in the Chancery’s front lot instead of the lot in back of the building. That change in routine would come back to haunt me. I do believe God has a sense of humor and used it to help me gain perspective on my life and its blessings and, of all things, the season of Advent!
Inside the office, I discovered a need to swap meetings with one of my staff. But the meeting that I swapped for had already started!
That afternoon, while driving with my colleague to a restaurant, we got stuck at a railroad crossing where the longest train in the world crept by. The restaurant we visited was delightful, but a miscommunication occurred with my order. We left the restaurant with the owner insisting that I take a to-go container of hot pancakes and maple syrup. I should have seen God smiling.
Back at the office, the small container of syrup fell off my desktop and spilled onto the carpet. I sopped up the mess and then raced to find the cleaning ladies for additional advice. They had left for the day.
That evening I headed out the back door to my car with a heavy bag of homework. But my car was parked out front! Not wanting to walk up a long hill and back down to get to the front, I tiptoed on grates that hugged the building to avoid having to walk, without boots, through the snow.
Driving home, I prayed again for help finding my keys. Another search of my car revealed nothing, until Steve brought a strong flashlight and fished out the keys wedged between a column that separated the driver and front passenger seats. I felt as if I’d received the keys to the kingdom!
On the first weekend of Advent, I attended eucharistic adoration, heard a homily during Mass and read a Facebook post that shed light on my frustrating Friday. God seemed to be telling me to take time to listen, to stop being so distracted so that I can prepare the way of the Lord.
A friend posted on Facebook “An Advent Prayer” by the late Father Henri J.M. Nouwen that speaks directly to me. It begins, “Lord Jesus, Master of both the light and the darkness, send your Holy Spirit upon our preparations for Christmas. We who have so much to do seek quiet spaces to hear your voice each day…”
My family and I prayed Fr. Nouwen’s Advent prayer on the first Sunday night of Advent after lighting a candle on our Advent wreath. Reflecting on the lost keys, I realize that God answered a request I hadn’t even made: a key to celebrating Advent.
(Editor Barb Arland-Fye can be reached at email@example.com.)