Absence makes the heart grow fonder: an Advent reflection inspired by my daughter.
My 4 year old daughter Princess and her cousin are best friends.
She sees her cousin almost every day. And when they don’t get together, she spends all her time talking about what she wants to say to her cousin or play with her when she sees her next.
But Princess’s cousin and her family went on vacation recently. For the first time, the two girls were separated by time and distance.
Life without her best friend is hard.
The first few days, Princess sat quietly on my lap, missing her cousin, at a loss for what to do. At a family gathering, she couldn’t bring herself to leave my side and go play with the other kids without her BFF.
She spent her days talking about what they’d do when her cousin gets home. She pretended she’s by her side, playing with her. She wrote her cousin notes, and begged to talk to her on the phone. She prayed for her with renewed fervor every night, with the special intention of a safe trip home.
In her waiting, Princess rediscovered how strong her love for her cousin is.
Her attachment to her grew stronger. Her friendship deeper. The central role of their relationship became clear, as she endured their separation.
Absence makes the heart grow fonder.
Cliche, maybe, but true.
Advent is coming, and a season of separation awaits us, too…
Let us pray
Lord Jesus, help me to enter into a spirit of waiting and preparation this Advent.
I want to immerse myself into the historical period before Your birth. I want to feel the separation of time and distance, the longing period, the anticipation.
I want to grow closer to You, by allowing myself to feel further apart.
Help me step into the shoes of the great figures in Old Testament History. Adam and Eve, David, Isaiah. The people who lived the season of Advent their whole lives.
Help me wait in hope
They waited for You with a special longing.
A longing that I so often let slip by unnoticed in this season of Christmas music and Nativity scenes and comfort foods.
A longing that I’ll never fully understand, because I live in this age of Salvation.
A longing that You satisfied by Your birth, Your death, Your Resurrection, Your gift of the Holy Eucharist.
They waited with hope.
They looked forward to the day when You would come. They placed their hope in that day. And they ushered it in with prayers and excitement.
I want to feel that desire, surety, and hope this season. I want to feel it for You, my Jesus.
Help me prepare in peace
Help me prepare for Your coming like Your chosen people did of old. Help me find peace in my longing, not agitation.
Mary, Your Mother and ours, dedicated her entire self to You. She gave her whole life to loving and serving You with a clean heart. Every day, her heart was focused on preparing for Your coming.
And when You sent Your angel Gabriel to announce the marvelous news, she was ready. She responded with a great big Yes!
Fiat. Let it be.
With a sense of peace, she turned her life over to You. She conformed her will to Yours and didn’t look back.
Help me, Jesus, to find peace. To keep the worries and cares of this world in check. To tell them to step aside and make room for You. To let peace in.
Let nothing disturb me, as I keep my eyes ahead, seeking in anticipation the moment of Your birth.
Help me rejoice in Your coming
You save us from our sins. You are the King, the Savior, the Messiah.
And on top of that, in a few short weeks, You’ll be born as an adorable, cuddly, baby. Oh, what rejoicing Your Incarnation brings!
Help me celebrate with true joy. Let nothing dampen my spirit. Nothing cloud my heart. For the gift You give us of Your very self is the most wonderful and pleasant surprise.
Help me see You in every Christmas candle. Every sparkling light.
Help me relish Your sweetness in every Christmas treat.
Help me marvel in wonder at Your generosity with every Christmas gift.
Protect me from the passing clouds that threaten to darken my days. May I clearly see what an infinite blessing Your birth is.
Like a mother who has eyes only for her newborn baby, let me have eyes only for You. Let me look on You with a loving gaze. Whisper sweet words of prayer to You. Hold You in my arms and drink in these precious moments.
Fill my heart with joy as I wait for the moment of Your birth.
Help me love You faithfully
During this time of waiting and separation, may my love for You grow stronger and more faithful.
For absence truly does make the heart grow fonder.
Help me love You and You alone. With all my heart, mind, soul, and strength.
Train me to keep my eyes on You, even though we’re apart. Just as a bride keeps her eyes on the bridegroom during the time of anticipation leading up to their wedding day.
Prepare my heart to belong to You.
Give me the grace to love my neighbor for love of You. Strengthen me in practicing the works of mercy, to minister to my neighbor. Help me to give of myself for Your sake, and so that I’ll be ready to give myself wholly to You when You come on Christmas day.
Sweet Baby Jesus…
…Help me have a fruitful and Holy Advent, by allowing myself to experience the feeling of separation in these weeks leading up to Your birth.
Increase my hope.
Help me prepare for Your coming with peace.
Give me a spirit of rejoicing.
And help me grow in deep and abiding love for You.
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