I arrived at the Post Office 9 minutes after it opened to find the line had already stretched beyond the front lobby and all the way to the door. I groaned, took my spot at the end and pulled out my phone to do all of those things we do when we find ourselves short on time and at the end of a long line- I checked the time, looked through my to do list, took care of some e-mail, glanced to the front of the line and thought evil, unfair thoughts about the postal system and…checked the time again to find it was only 3 minutes later than the first time I checked.
Then, I remembered that Advent is a season in which we are challenged to embrace the waiting places in our lives.
I sighed and surrendered to the wait. That is when I smelled it- the perfect blend of aftershave and cigars that always accompanied my grandfather. Somehow, the older gentleman in line in front of me had gotten it just right.
I closed my eyes and inhaled deeply as memories flooded my mind and heart- my grandfather’s infectious laugh, his tender hand wrapped around mine, vanilla ice cream in the summer and peppermint sticks at Christmastime.
He was the kindest man I have ever known.
Cancer cruelly took him from us the summer I turned 19. It was much too soon. He didn’t see me graduate from college summa cum laude or taste my wedding cake. He never held my babies… He would never have the chance to read my book or brag to his friends that his granddaughter had become an author.
I inhaled the scent of him as I stood in line and thought of him up in Heaven with my grandmother, laughing until tears ran down their faces as they did so often while holding hands at the dining room table here on earth.
And I thought, with great gratitude and wonder, of The Christ Child who came to bridge the distance between heaven and earth. He lived, died, and lived again so that death might be defeated forever. Because of Jesus, I will one day hold my grandfather close again. I will have the joy of watching as he pulls each of my babies into his arms.
I looked up to find the line was gone. The older gentleman in front of me checked his watch and looked to the counter.
I took one last, deep breath and he was gone.
And I thanked God for the unexpected gift He had hidden for me in the wait of Advent.
“Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!” Isaiah 30:18