We have other obligations most Sundays. So it wasn’t until Monday morning that we went walking again. I looked for the man from Saturday. “Saint John of the Mall” Brenda had called him.
We started our walk at Red Robin. We tossed our coats on the bench near the door. At 7:00 on the Monday after the Thanksgiving holiday, there’s not much concern about theft.
As we approached the center court, I started getting nervous. I never know how to start conversations with people I don’t know.
But he wasn’t on his bench.
It’s a big mall. I’m not sure why I expected him to be there, but I still wanted to know about him.
It made me think a little about anticipation.
I never was much of an Advent person as a kid. But back then, I looked forward to Christmas. Now, I don’t so much. I think I got exhausted from all the Christmas performing. Planning events, scheduling rehearsals, solving technical problems. We never got around to thinking about the family part of Christmas until after Christmas Eve.
I’ll be accurate. I didn’t. Nancy did. And she would pull me patiently into the gift process.
We started doing treasure hunts for our kids. We wrote some clues. Opening gift cards is a little more exciting when you have to find them.
One year, we sent them to the mall. We hid clues in lockers, then hid the keys in other lockers. While other people wandered the mall wondering, our kids were following a calling.
What made the adventures interesting was the anticipation. They appreciated the gifts because of the process. They appreciated the process because it was pursued together.
That’s what Advent is for the church, a collective anticipation of the Kingdom of God.
I was so wrapped up in my thoughts that I nearly tripped over the man’s feet. I turned to apologize.
“My name is John,” he said.