Week 1: Expectation
Thank you for taking the time to sit with our annual Advent Devotionals. As we move into a busy month of exams and holiday preparation, we invite you to sit with the words of members of the TCU community. Our first devotional, written by TCU senior Isabella Nucci, kicks off our week of expectation, and we’re so grateful for her thoughtful words!
Words to ponder
“Jesus, in Matthew’s gospel, says, ‘How narrow is the gate that leads to life.’ St. Hedwig writes, ‘All is narrow for me, I feel so vast.’ It’s about funneling ourselves into a central place. Our choice is not to focus on the narrow, but to narrow our focus. The gate that leads to life is not about restriction at all. It is about an entry into the expansive. There is a vastness in knowing you’re a son/daughter worth having. We see our plentitude in God’s own expansive view of us, and we marinate in this.”
-Father Gregory Boyle in Tattoos on the Heart
Narrowing our focus
I think sometimes the most important things in our life, special times, crucial moments, things that require our attention come at the most inconvenient time. For most people, their deadlines are set for the end of the year, for students they have their busiest time of the fall term, all of their finals just a week and a half before Christmas. A time of the year that is meant to be special and celebrated becomes a time of heightened stress. For me, that just screams anxiety, scattered thoughts, distraction, and a lot of attention spent on things other than some of the most hallmark attributes of the season, those being: joy, family, kinship, peace, prayer, reflection, I could go on and on. I thought of this quote because I realize how vast I feel, how spread out I feel during this time of the year. All of the papers due, the projects, the finals to study for, the people to keep up with, the relationships to maintain… it’s too much. As a result, I am unfocused on some of the things that are meant to ground me, like my faith.
Father Greg talks about narrowing our focus so that we can tap into a space where we can access a feeling of expansiveness that is far from the vast feelings that come with stress and distraction. It’s funny because both feelings deal with ideas being bigger than ourselves, but they are worlds apart. The vastness that comes with an unfocused over commitment, of spreading myself too thin, makes me feel as though I am disconnected from my religion and distanced from my focus on pouring into my faith. But in narrowing our scope, in focusing our thoughts on this “central place” we have access to a feeling that is so wholesome and good that it fills us up, making us feel a vastness that instead of depleting our energies and our spirits it fills us to the brim and makes us whole again. If we can narrow our focus to be on God we can see His view of us, and we might be shocked at how vast it really is. Isn’t that a lovely thought?