One year during Advent, our parish priest invited us to write down on a slip of paper a word that named something that is keeping us from getting closer to God. He suggested it might be a fear, a resentment, or an attitude that shuts us off from the love God so wants to give.
We were to fold the paper over a few times, grasp it tightly in one hand, and make a fist around it while he began to preach on the Scripture readings.
After a minute, my hand began to ache. At two minutes, my hand grew numb. At three minutes, the hand started shaking uncontrollably. He told us to open our hands. I found how hard it was to do that. After grasping the piece of paper so tightly, my hand had stiffened and seemed to have a mind of its own.
I can’t remember what else he said that day, but I have never forgotten that lesson. Hold on to a resentment, fear, or bad attitude long enough and you will become paralyzed.
As I begin Advent every year now, I start with the realization that I need to let go of any and all spiritual impediments I’m hanging onto. Advent is a time of receiving. It’s hard to receive if your hands are clasped shut. So I begin Advent once again with this prayer: Holy Spirit of God, open my hands, my eyes, my ears, all my senses, and all of my heart so I will be ready to receive your Advent blessings.
And then I sit there in the Advent darkness, my hands open before me, waiting on God
(Written by Tom McGrath, author of Raising Faith Filled Kids, The Meal Box, and one of the authors of the God’s Gift series)