My good friend Rob used to tell of a day, not unlike Tuesday, when he was on foot out in blustery rainy weather, waiting at a long traffic light to cross a busy street.

He heard a garbled uttering and saw a person crouching next to a shopping cart full of who-knows-what, sheltering himself from the rain with some cardboard. The person repeated the utterance…Rob made out the word “bus”.

Rob looked up to the street signs. He was not at a bus stop. He looked down at the puddle in the gutter.

“Bus,” the person said again, a bit louder.

Rob, already harried and wet, started feeling awkward. He focused on the streetlight ahead, wondering when it would ever change.

“Bus!” the person shouted. Rob, ever conscientious, started feeling some compassion for this poor blubbering soul.

“BUS!” he heard one last time, right as a bus swept by, splashing Rob completely with water from the gutter.

Bus. This person wasn’t looking for attention or even a hand-out…he wasn’t an object of compassion to be “saved”; he was trying to “save” Rob from getting soaked.

The message from an unlikely source…not unlike one of the themes of Advent.

Few expected a Savior to be born from a teen-ager in a barn. Joseph, Mary’s betrothed husband, certainly wasn’t!

Would we? How many unwed mothers are giving birth today in squalor?

Yet he, and Mary especially, acted upon the unlikely, the this-is-not-going-the-way-I-was-expecting, with grace and with faith.

Faith to act gracefully, attentive to the unexpected.

My buddy Rob wasn’t paying attention, because he didn’t expect anything from such an unlikely source and because he was so focused on getting across the street and out of the rain.

This time of year lends itself to frenetic anxiety and hustle-bustle. When I am at my fastest, I am also often at my least attentive. What signs am I missing, literally and figuratively, when I am charging across town in the rain and the wind? What is out there that I am ignoring in all the noise, that if I paid attention to it, might actually help calm me?

Yet another important reason that we ask our students to engage in espacio, in mindful quiet, at periods during Chapel and during class. Quiet the hustle bustle. Listen for signs, even from unexpected places. Listen for peace.  Listen for the message of Christmas that gets so readily drowned out in commercials and devastating newscasts.

And, if nothing else, maybe avoid getting soaked by a bus.



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