A Blessed Longing: Advent
The Christmas Gift: A Story

The Weather of Advent

Index Either I'm just irritable or there's something the matter when you cannot find a quiet place to work.  I'm in a hotel, en route to visit out of town relatives, and I can barely think for the noise.  My room is not quiet.  The TV is set to The Food Network and my kids are enraptured by its savvy host, and I'm conscious of the banter of the chef, the sizzling of food, the litany of ingredients.  I go to the lobby, and the TV is set to The Weather Channel.  I do not need to know the weather.  I can see it outside the window.  That someone can market a 24/7 channel that focuses on nothing but weather is a testament to our collective boredom and the banality of most other programming.  I move to the pool room, and it's hushed and humid, but there is, inexplicably, nowhere to sit except in the pool, and I'm not dressed for that.  In this entire hotel, there is no place available to me that is relatively quiet.

So, "join the weather channel for a guaranteed white Christmas," as the commentator says, as the "local on the 8s" screens by to the strains of "joyful, joyful, we adore thee" overlaid by a male voiceover of "tonight, cloudy, low of 43."

"Two foot snowfall for some parts of New York City," he says. I can't get it out of my head.  "Jim Cantore. . .  Carl. . .  How is it out there? . . . when you start getting the compacted stuff, keep the back as straight as you can. . . if we get rain, it'll make things more difficult" and so on, and so on.

It's all so important. Oh to be a Weather Channel personality.  Where do you go from there?  There is a career in banter.  And we watch this stuff!

I am incredibly annoyed that I have to live with such intrusions.  I can't turn off the lobby TV because someone somewhere has determined that in the marketing of the hotel it is important to have that sound, to give a sense that something is alive, something happening here, in this hotel.  And if we turn off the TV, there will be background music playing, also carefully chosen, aimed at some target demographic, to make them feel a certain way.

"Today, sun, along with patchy clouds."  It's the "Local on the 8s" again, back around for another assault on me, another reminder that there is nothing new, just sun, storms, earthquakes, tornados, more sun, floods, hurricanes, and tsunamis --- a cycle of blessing and curse.  It's all terribly exciting and so important, so immediate.  Above all, make it immediate.

It's Sunday morning.  I'm trying to think about the advent of something really important.  Not immediate. Not noisy.  Not compelling.  Not exciting.  At least not in any sense that we now understand those words.  I want to think about the Incarnation, the entry of God into the world in human form, a story that has become so familiar to me that I have difficulty recognizing its nature as "news," how the weather of life on earth changed with that advent.

"Of course you want to stay right here with us on The Weather Channel."  Do I?  I don't think so.  I'm rebelling.  I grab the remote, power off the TV.  Amazing.  Not a thing happened.  It's quiet.  I think I'll just sit here and see what happens.  Maybe Jesus will walk right in.  Maybe I'll wait right here for the News, the Good News.

"Today, partly cloudy, and quiet, very quiet.  We here at The Weather Channel will observe a day of silence, a day to reflect on the meaning of the Incarnation, about the weather of His birth, the climate of his coming, and the global warming of His love.  Stay with us, will you?"

Sure.  That kind of weather I need.  Quiet is good weather for Advent.