On a day that was cold as only cold in NYC can be—temperatures necessitating multiple layers for warmth, wind that makes you gasp—I was walking down Ninth Avenue on my way to work. Like everyone else on the street that morning, my head was down, and I was moving forward as fast as I could toward my destination. No one was dawdling. No one was talking, even. Everyone just wanted to get from their own personal point A to point B where more civilized temperatures might await.
Suddenly, I heard a loud laugh, followed by an “Oh Wow!!” I looked up and saw a man stopped in the middle of pedestrian traffic and looking down at a glove on the sidewalk. Out loud, and to no one in particular, he exclaimed, “I lost this yesterday. I didn’t know where it was; I thought it was gone for good. I must have dropped it when I was walking, and here it is! Still! Right where I left it!”
It was pretty amazing, in a city as large as ours with so many people walking around, that something as small (and essential, on such a cold day) as a glove could be misplaced and then be waiting to be found exactly where it had been lost. And that it was found, by a person looking in exactly the right place at exactly the right time, was a delightful surprise.
Two of the words most associated with Advent are “repent” and “rejoice.” Both include the prefix “re,” meaning “back” or “again.” In this holy season, we are reminded that, while God is always drawing the new out of the old all our faithful activity and all of God’s holy surprises are meant to bring us back to the place where we began. God’s loving presence with us abides always. If we look for it, we are sure to find it. And sometimes, just when we think the search is futile and all is lost, the very thing we need shows up at the exact time we need it. God breaks in, comforting us and assuring us that we are loved.