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I LOVE JESUS, who said to us:
Heaven and earth will pass away.
When heaven and earth have passed away,
my word will remain.
What was your word, Jesus?
Love? Affection? Forgiveness?
All your words were
one word: Wakeup.

— Antonio Machado, from “Times Alone,” (Selected Poems, translated by Robert Bly)


IF IT’S ABOUT ANYTHING, Advent is about waking up. Being alert enough to welcome the Lord when he comes. He comes as a guest, as a traveler, a clerk, a mail carrier. He comes as a child, a refugee, an outcast, an overtaxed mother, an underpaid staffer. He comes joyful or sorrowful, with a question or a word, in front of you or in a voice on the other end of the phone or screen. He comes.

BE PRESENT, therefore! Because he always shows up unannounced and is apt to slip into any encounter. The ordinary and extraordinary ones, with an outstretched and open hand offering one thing — the timeless key to the doorway to life. Take the key! The love, the affection, the forgiveness, all the gifts you either give or receive will follow.


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Surprising God,
come into my life again
today, as you do every day.
Help me to remain alert to your
mysterious arrival — never
quite in the way I expect
it to be. Always with
an opportunity
to be with


TIMES ALONE, Selected Poems of Antonio Machado (1875-1939), translated by Robert Bly, © 1983 Wesleyan University Press, Middletown, CT.