Caution – Construction Ahead
Advent is a season full of symbols. We have the Advent wreath and Advent calendars. There is the Jesse tree. We put lights on our houses to symbolize the light of Christ coming into the world to scatter the darkness. At Christmas the familiar manger scenes replace the wreathes of Advent. We make special food, sing special songs, and send special cards. Yes, there are many symbols of this season. One symbol that is often overlooked is the ever familiar…orange construction cone.
Why an orange construction cone to symbolize Advent? No one likes to encounter a construction zone while driving down the road. The person holding the sign with the ominous warning “Slow” says it all. It can take a great deal of patience not to get frustrated with a construction zone. Despite the inconvenience while the construction is going on, pretty much everyone is pleased with the result when the construction is over. Driving down a nice smooth road or having a new turn lane are often worth the wait.
Today’s readings speak of our relationship with God using images taken from road construction. In order to prepare for the coming of God, we are told to straiten the crooked roads, smooth out the rough places, level the hills and fill in the valleys. As we look to get our highway prepared for the coming of God this Advent, maybe we notice a few potholes that need to be fixed. Maybe the work required is more substantial. Sometimes you’ve patched things so much that there comes a time when you need to scrape off the worn out layer and resurface. What kind of spiritual roadwork do you need to do to prepare this Advent?
In addition to the repairs that we need to make, the message on the familiar sign is a good one, “Slow.” This season can become so busy with all the extra things we add. Yet, what we need most is to slow down, take time for prayer and reflection, to simplify our lives. Maybe an orange construction cone is not such a bad symbol for Advent after all. The next time you encounter some construction, think of the smooth road being created and then remember to slow down in your own life and prepare the way of the Lord.