Fourth Sunday of Advent
“Here I am living in a house of cedar, while the ark of God dwells in a tent!” – 2 Samuel 7
The jangle of keys, the click of the lock on the front door, the rustle of the laundry basket. Small sounds like these have trained our one-year-old Matthew, “something is happening.” He comes running down the hall, slipping and sliding in his hurry to be involved. “Mama? Maaamaaa?!” Most of his life has been in quarantine. Outings are to the garage to load the washing machine, to the car to do a drive-up order at Target, and sometimes to grandma’s to be babysat while I work. There have been no baby music or tumbling classes. Unlike his older siblings, who had taken flights, gone to Disneyland, visited extended family on the opposite end of the state, Matthew’s life has been moving between the bedroom, the kitchen, the living room, and the most exciting part of the house: the garage.
In March, I never could have imagined how small our world would shrink and for how long. My little shadow could barely roll over when this started, and now his footsteps thunder around the hallways. Our house doesn’t feel big enough for school, work, Zoom ballet class, and active kids. The walls begin to feel like they are closing in on us. My world feels small, my house feels small, I feel small. I lament all the things that feel wrong with my house, beyond the endless ToDo lists and constant cleaning.
In the first reading today, King David is horrified that the ark of the covenant is residing in a tent, while he lives in luxury. Through the Prophet Nathan, God tells David, “Is it you who will build a house for me?” I hear that query and wonder how I could answer. All I have to offer Jesus is a couch with a sagging cushion and slightly chipped frame, a floor covered in Barbies, and bookshelves filled edge to edge with LEGOs.
What I have to offer Jesus seems so small: kitchen, family room, garage. The sacred space I have is the world that Matthew sees through his little eyes. This year, these four walls (and the people who dwell in them) are the only manger I have for the Holy Family. It may be crowded, chaotic, and slightly sticky, but I trust it is a place that Jesus will want to come, to visit, to make a home.