The Third Week of Advent
by Beverly Hutchinson McNeff
Each year when my brother and I were growing up, my mom would hang our stockings on the mantle. She had a stocking made for each of us with our names sewn on in a fancy stitch. They were made a very long time ago, when this type of specialty work was very precious and not found in every store or mail order magazine as it is today. Those stockings always represented to me my parents’ love for us. Even though they did not have a lot in the way of finances when we were young, they always made sure we never felt lacking. We didn’t have a lot of things, but we thought we did, and it was our parents’ love that made the ordinary seem extraordinary.
As my brother and I got older and had our own families, and our parents passed on to the experience of eternal life, I forgot about the stockings. My new stockings for my husband and our kids (from his first marriage) took priority. When our little boy Jeffrey came along, I made sure he had his stocking with his name on it. My mom’s tradition of those special stockings continued, and now each grandchild has their special stocking, too.
About ten years ago, I had a surprising Christmas experience. As Christmas day arrived, I was busy making sure everything was perfect before Jeffrey walked in for Santa’s morning surprise. But, when I walked into the living room, what should I see on the mantle of the fireplace, but my stocking from when I was a little girl!
My heart leaped with delight and my eyes filled with tears. My logical mind wanted to figure out how it had gotten there and who had brought it, but those thoughts were quickly transcended for a moment by the real message of that stocking — I was loved. I was loved not just by my parents, my child, my husband, or my brother, who had found the stocking and gave it to my husband to hang. I was just loved.
And, I was love. I was connected to something greater than myself. I was connected to every living thing . . . I was connected to God, and nothing could stop that connection . . . not distance, not attitudes, and not death. There was something greater at work in my life, and that stocking reminded me of that. Whenever life seems to be sad, hurtful, depressing, or anxious, God is still at work, and He loves me … He loves all of us.
God is tireless in His love and comfort for us, and nothing can separate us from His care. Love is the answer, no matter the problem. Now, this may sound naive to our egos, but it’s because we have put our faith in everything else besides His loving care. And, have those “other things” ever really given you the lasting result you desire? I know they haven’t because they haven’t for me. That special stocking, however, was the instrument that reminded me of God’s Love. Even if just for a moment. And, that moment was enough for God to get past my “sophisticated” ego mind and connect me with His infinite care.
God’s love gives so much comfort, and so let us focus on this comfort for the third week of Advent. One of my favorite quotes in the Course is found in chapter 31 of the Text in the section: Recognizing Spirit. It suggests we move past the many ego forms that distract us and focus on the truth: we are spirit. This is not the easiest thing to do while we still see bodies and the world, and so the Course so compassionately tells us that we should at least choose spirit even if we cannot fully understand how to move past the world of form. It says…
“…choose the spirit, and all Heaven bends to touch your eyes and bless your holy sight, that you may see the world of flesh no more except to heal and comfort and to bless.” (T-31.1:8)
While we still see the “world of flesh,” we use every experience “to heal and comfort and to bless.”
Many of you have been joining with us for this Advent season, so you are aware that in our weekly livestream meetings, we are using these concepts to prepare our minds and hearts for birthing the Christ awareness within us. For week one, we used lesson 109 to affirm the mighty healing truth of “I rest in God.” For the second week of Advent, we declared the truth of healing, as we affirmed, “I am here to heal.” Now for our third week of Advent, we become instruments of loving comfort as we affirm, “I am here to comfort.”
How might you do this? Perhaps you haven’t had a “special stocking” appear on your mantle this year (or maybe you just haven’t noticed it), but you can still remember you are loved. After all, isn’t this the real message of the Christmas season: to remember the birth of love and the comfort that it brings? Perhaps you can help someone in need remember they are loved by a phone call, a card, an email, text, or simply sit quietly with a loving thought for them. The “special stocking” of loving comfort you extend to another will be the blessing you receive, and perhaps just “the little” willingness that God needs to get past your “logical” ego mind and connect you with His love and comfort always. As the Course so beautifully says,
“My Father supports me, protects me, and directs me in all things. His care for me is infinite, and is with me forever.” (W-58)