Advent: Day 12
Isaiah 41:18, Revised Standard Version
We are short-staffed at our middle school this year, and often teachers are assigned temporary extra duty—without extra pay, of course.
Several weeks ago, I was assigned to morning duty in the cafeteria, along with the other special education teacher. Presumably, we special ed teachers don’t have anything important to do in the morning before school starts, so we are at the mercy of the need of the moment. (We’ve also been pressed into service as substitute teachers.)
A middle school cafeteria first thing in the morning is a wilderness. Many of the students are half-awake, and they willfully (or sleepily) break the rules. Not a morning goes by but what I don’t have to say to students, “Take off your hood, please,” or “No, you may not go to the bathroom without a pass,” or “The next time I see your cell phone, I’ll have to confiscate it.”
After several week of standing guard in the wilderness, and fuming about it, I reluctantly resigned myself to my fate: I am going to be stuck with morning cafeteria duty for the rest of the year, so I might as well make the best of it.
This morning, out of sheer boredom, I started humming “O Little Town of Bethlehem” softly to myself. To my delight, I realized that no one could hear me above the din raised by several hundred chattering students. (Yes, despite their sleepiness, they can still talk.)
As I continued humming the familiar Christmas carol, while thinking of the words, the wilderness of the cafeteria suddenly became a place of beauty and grace. The “dry land” of the breakfast room became “springs of water,” nourishing my soul.
The church calendar contains as many as 34 weeks of so-called Ordinary Time, a season with no major celebrations.
Advent, however, is far from ordinary. It is a season of expectation, providing opportunities for me to see God change the most barren wilderness in my life into a flourishing field fed by springs of living water.