Great Expectations


Today’s Time of Stillness:  12 minutes

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is love.  –  1 Corinthians 13:13

Expectations can be tricky things.  Sometimes they can leave us disappointed.  No matter how many recipes I try, my shrimp scampi sauce always ends up tasting like buttery, garlic water.  Ok, maybe that’s harsh.  A thin buttery, garlic broth.  I’m so hopeful with each new recipe… until that first bite.

Last weekend we went Christmas caroling with an awesome group of folks.  We were small in number but we had a ringer; two ringers actually.  A husband and wife guitarist and vocalist.  I just knew we were going to rock the socks off of Jingle Bells at the memory care cottages at the nursing home.

And we did.  We were a hit!  Granted, one person in the common area slept through our set of carols. And another seemed a little put out that they had turned off the Grinch movie so we could sing.  I get it.  I don’t like a movie to be interrupted either.

But, for the most part, those in the room seemed cheered by the joyful noise of Joy to the World and Silent Night.

As we moved our group from one cottage to the next, I missed the fact that Christy, our amazing vocalist, had to leave to take her son to basketball practice.  A fact that became painfully clear two notes into Deck the Halls.  Fa la la la las are interminable when no one has the confidence to claim a note and commit.  Even the Elf on the Shelf just shook his head as we all hid behind Austin, our guitarist, who saved us by playing just a little bit louder.

When I finally got the courage to look up from my song sheet, no one in the room seemed to care that we were a bit pitchy.  They were lost in their own thoughts, mouthing the comforting words of songs from happy times stored deep in their memories, their eyes fixed on the two little children in our group donning Santa hats who smiled back at them and freely gave hugs as we got ready to leave.

It is so easy to let expectations of what we think will be cause us to miss the beauty of what actually is.  The simple joy of Christmas carols warming memories in those whose memories have grown so dim.  The love of my husband and daughter insisting that this shrimp scampi is the best I’ve ever made.

We bring expectations to so many areas of our lives.  Our relationships, our work, our faith, even our experience of Christmas.  Subtle checklists of what should be – how it should look and feel – that can sometimes get in the way of seeing the gifts right in front of us.

Maybe even your expectations of what times of stillness should be like.

This year, instead of a mental checklist of what a great Christmas should be like, keep a running list of what actually makes your Christmas special.  A moment with a friend.  A kind word of a stranger.  An unexpected, thoughtful gift.  An inexplicable sense of God’s presence.  May these unexpected treasures be your gifts this Christmas.


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