I am useless as a leveler of hills, filler of valleys

Maria Kozakiewicz

WORD MADE FLESH

Second Sunday in Advent – December 7, 2014
Isaiah 40.1-5, 9-11 | Psalm 85 | 2 Peter 3.8-14 | Mark 1.1-8
December 1, 2014

When Advent comes with its message of "prepare the way for the Lord," I panic. Not because of the message of the final days. In my mind this vision is inseparable from expectation of rest, peace and joy – and the meeting with love incarnate.

The levelling of hills and filling up of ditches is what worries me. In my life I see nothing but ditches and hills, not a bit of a smooth road built. How is Jesus to come to me through these thorny brambles?

How will he cross the stagnant lake of my sloth? And, if I want him to come, where do I start? Is there a place where he will be able to set his foot in me?

Make straight in the desert a highway for our God. – Isaiah 40.3

'Make straight in the desert a highway for our God.'

Isaiah 40.3

When I was much younger, I was sure I could deal with the Advent call. I even thought I could make a change – a big change. I set up prayer and meditation groups, I followed the ways of the saints – sometimes this one, next the other.

Soup kitchens, charity drives, Church lay ministry – all these were my world, my joy, my way of building the road for God. I'd round up the unbaptized kids and bring them to the font to make them Christians – then I would lose track of them for years.

All the nice things my friends had to say about my pious activities led me to think I was successful in Advent's highway construction.

Now, years later, I know I am useless as a leveler of hills. Any roads I have ever paved are full of potholes and unfit for use. Others feed the poor and bring consolation to the downtrodden, others serve as readers, others collect socks for the homeless and cook splendid dinners for charitable purposes. I am an Advent failure.

Nothing seems to work any longer. My friend, whose faith has sustained mine for decades, who has borne five wonderful children and loved her husband faithfully, has just learned that he has had "a parallel family" for several years. Her whole world is falling apart, and I grieve with her.

Where is one to start Advent when not a single piece of life's puzzle seems to fit? Is Advent only for those who are happily pious and who attend daily Mass?

Is it also for those on brink of bitter divorce? For those who do not have to work two jobs to keep a bunch of kids fed and clothed?

Yet – the call is there: Come and repent; level the hills and fill up the ditches; make the way for the Lord, a smooth, broad road.

So maybe, maybe I should bend down and start levelling the bumps and filling the potholes once again, humbly, knowing I can never finish the task, that what counts is the effort, repetition of the effort and good will. Jesus himself will build the road, level the hills, bridge the ditches . . . and come.