An Agate, a Skate, and a Tadpole: a Reflection for the Second Sunday of Advent, 2023

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An Agate, a Skate, and a Tadpole: a Reflection for the Second Sunday of Advent, 2023

by Thom Chartier, Oblate of St. Benedict

Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11

Psalm 85:9-10-11-12, 13-14

2 Peter 3:8-14

Mark 1:1-8

I never knew my father. My parents divorced when I was an infant. However, growing up I was blessed with three wonderful men. Through their individual mentorship and love I am now beginning to understand their life lessons.

Mr. Heller, a Jew, would take me agate hunting. I spent many hours walking along country roads or searching gravel pits, looking for that one elusive agate.

Mr. Delmore, a Catholic, bought me my first hockey skates, stick, and puck. We drove up to Chester Pond where he taught me how to tie my skates, gave me the stick and puck, and then sat in his car and watched me for hours learning to skate, falling more often than not, but persevering, nevertheless.

Mr. Sandstrom, a Protestant, would often take me along with his wife up to their cabin on Lake Superior south of Grand Marais, Minnesota. Mr. Sandstrom and his friend Al were avid fishermen, but I was too young to go with them, which I dearly wanted to do. So instead, I explored the rugged granite shoreline for hours, finding large and small pools of water looking for tadpoles, just watching them.

Now, if I listen with the ear of my heart, I begin to understand the life lessons of these three wise men:

In Isaiah 40:3, we hear “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord.” Perhaps, looking for that one special agate, my soul was preparing me for the coming of our Lord. Alleluia!

In the Second Letter of Peter, we hear, “But do not overlook one fact, dear friends, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day” (2 Peter: 8). Perhaps, watching those tadpoles grow in the pools of water was a reflection of my soul patiently waiting for the birth of our Lord. Alleluia!

In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus says, “I have baptized you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit” (Mark 1:8). Perhaps learning to skate, falling repeatedly but also joyfully getting back up, was a baptism for life’s journey. Alleluia!

Finally in Psalm 85, we sing, “I will hear what God the Lord will say, for He will speak peace to His people and to His worshippers; but let them not turn again to folly. Surely His salvation is near to those who revere Him, so that glory may dwell in our land. Loving kindness and truth have met together, righteousness and peace have kissed each other. Truth sprouts forth from the earth, and down from heaven. Yes, the Lord will give what is good and our land will yield its produce” (Psalm 85:8-13). Alleluia!

Perhaps the spirit of the three Kings who visited the infant Jesus lived on with the three men who, early in my life, played such an important role. Only this time instead of Myrrh, Frankincense, and Gold, they brought Patience, Preparation, and Perseverance. ‘Tis the season of miracles, after all.

In the beginning of this reflection, I said I never knew my biological father. What I now understand is that my heavenly Father has always been at my side.

To those three wise men in my early life, whom I now appreciate all the more because I am listening with the ear of my heart, … Thank you – Memory Eternal.


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“Listen carefully, my child, to your master's precepts, and incline the ear of your heart. Receive willingly and carry out effectively your loving father's advice, that by the labor of obedience you may return to Him from whom you had departed by the sloth of disobedience.”
–St. Benedict of Nursia, The Rule of Saint Benedict