Do you have any room?

I don’t think I’ll forget Advent 2017 in a hurry. It’s been marked by some beautiful moments: a new baby, above all; an unforgettable nativity play; cooking and baking; cosy family time; deep sibling conversations (the best!); some unexpected extra Adoration time, and the daily blessing of using this stunning Advent lectio divina journal. It has included so many of the moments of laughing, resting and slowing down I wrote about last year’s Advent.

But you know the saying, “If you want to make God laugh tell him your plans”?! This Advent was also touched by the unpredictable and unexpected. There are few things we can’t control today, and when babies arrive is one of them! Staying at my sister’s house waiting for the arrival of another little one was a great lesson in not being in control, of loving in the moment, of honouring God’s perfect timing.

Coming back to my life in London, however, of course I planned the rest of Advent, dividing the time between what needed to be done before Christmas. My other sister falling ill in hospital for a few days was not in this plan!

When God allows my well-crafted plans to be upturned it generally means he wants to enlarge my heart. When my life meets the unpredictable and unexpected, he normally has something bigger in store for me, and it almost always involves love.

“How much are you willing to lay down your will and your plans, and let me love you – and others through you?”

The unpredictable and the unexpected are at the heart of Advent: I often think of how every fibre of Our Lady’s being would not have wanted her Son to be born in a shabby, draughty stable. Yet, while no one had room for her and her Child, she had room in her heart for the Father’s will. Yet I am certain it must have cost her.

Christmas has to be one of the most over-planned, hyper-pressured seasons, and yet at the heart of it, Jesus invites us to enlarge our hearts. Sometimes this is a small inconvenience; sometimes it involves deep pain and trauma. If you find yourself facing something you hadn’t planned this season, I think you can be certain of God gently inviting you to a reality that is deeper or greater:

Do you have any room?

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