I don't often talk of religion on this blog, but today it is close to my heart. This morning, a terrible train crash made me stop in my "tracks" and reminded me that we should never take today, this moment, or the people we care about for granted. There were people I know who were supposed to be on that train. There were people who were loved and cared about by people just like me on that train. I was reminded that we are not promised tomorrow. Today, with all its imperfections, is in itself the greatest of gifts.
As I listened to the horrific reports about the accident, I thought I should call all the people I know and tell them I loved them. I wondered if I should get those Christmas cards addressed, today, just in case. I pondered if I should shop, wrap, cook, clean and party enjoying every moment of the day.
Only a few hours later, I ushered in the beginning of Advent, a season of preparation for Christmas. While Advent coincides with shopping and parties, it is more accurately a season of intense reflection and preparation of our homes and hearts. During this season, we prepare through reflection on how our day-to day sacrifices and challenges will eventually be rewarded with intense joy. Good things come to those who wait might be a slogan for Advent.
As I prayed for those who are suffering and reflected on my own preparation during Advent, I wondered how "enjoying every moment" and "deferring fulfillment" might live side by side. Were the messages counter intuitive? I suspect they are not. We need preparation, reflection, and acknowledgement of the moment in all that we do as caring and compassionate people. The gift of today and the promise of great joy for those who believe in tomorrow can happily coexist.