I grew up in Wyoming in a city that supposedly has the second highest average wind speed of any city in the U.S. Because of this, the winter nights can be treacherous. With wind chill it can get down to 120 degrees below zero. Even on the “warm” winter nights the wind would howl and the wind chill would be below zero. I loved those cold winter nights. I would go for long walks in the wind; not because I loved the cold and not because I loved the wind. I did it because of what the wind did to me. Even when you are bundled up in a safe and warm way, there is still a part of the wind that just cuts right through you. It is almost as if you are nothing more than a screen door with the wind passing right through.
The reason I loved this feeling was because it felt like I couldn’t lie when I was in that wind. I couldn’t deceive myself and I could deceive anyone else. It was almost as if that if I tried to lie, the wind would see into my core and see the truth. These long walks helped me learn to be honest with myself. It was when taking these long walks in the wind that I first truly learned how to pray. Up until that point, when I would take time to pray, I would put up a brave face. I would pretend that things were better than they really were. On some level I was deluding myself to think that I could trick God about my life when I was in prayer. I know that is foolish, but that is how I acted. Taking long walks in that cutting bitter wind helped me to see me the way God saw me. He saw (and sees) right to my core. Until I took those walks in the wind I was afraid that God would see me for who I truly was and see how I truly acted. On those walks I learned to honestly let God in the way the wind was cutting through me.
The end of this week’s Gospel reads: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight His paths. Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill shall be made low. The winding roads shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” Often times when we think of preparing for the arrival of someone, we think about the things we need to put in place. We need to get extra goodies and decorate our place so they feel welcome, comfortable, and appreciated. In reality what we need to do is create space for them to step into. The Gospel speaks of preparing the way not by setting things up, but my moving everything out of the way so the arrival is eased. As we prepare for the coming of the Lord in this Advent season, we are asked to remove the obstacles for Jesus’ arrival into our lives, our heart, and our soul. We are called to remove our expectations. We are called to remove our delusions about ourselves and the world. The question is not is Jesus going to show up, but instead are we going to make room to allow in Him in.