If I learn to accept myself in these days of stillness, if I accept the pain, because the Lord is using it to purify me—does this not make me richer than if I had earned a lot of money? Has not something happened to me that is more durable and fruitful than all those things that can be counted and calculated?
A visit by the Lord—perhaps illness can present itself in a new light when we see it as a part of Advent. For when we rebel against it, this is not only because it is painful or because it is hard to be still and alone: we rebel against it because there are so many important things we ought to be doing and because illness seems meaningless. But it is not in the least meaningless! In the structure of human life as a whole, it is profoundly meaningful. It can be a moment in our life that belongs to God, a time when we are open to him and thus learn to rediscover our own selves.
Perhaps we should try an experiment. Let us understand the individual events of the day as little signs God sends us. Let us not take note only of the annoying and unpleasant things; we should endeavor to see how often God lets us feel something of his love. To keep a kind of inner diary of good things would be a beautiful and healing task.
The Lord is here. This Christian certainty is meant to help us look at the world with new eyes and to understand the “visitation” as a visit, as one way in which he can come to us and be close to us.1