The 19th century Jesuit poet, Gerard Manley Hopkins, has a line in Hurrahing in Harvest that resonates with me as we come to the beginning of Advent. Hopkins says: These things, these things were here and but the beholder wanting.
Although it’s an autumn poem, that sense of beholding is a good grace for us to pray for in these opening days of Advent. The Gospel for the First Sunday of Advent has Jesus remind us to stay awake and alert, to be attentive to the ways in which God can be discovered. He says,
For you do not know when the time will come. We can be surprised by God’s gifts at any time. That requires that we be vigilant, attentive and alert. Hopkins is reminding us that the possibilities of God’s graces are there. We just need to behold them or be attentive to our experiences so that we don’t miss the meaning in them.