Every morning, I begin the day with oatmeal. For the past few months, I've eaten organic quick oats, cooked right in the bowl, in the microwave. I give it a minute, and then stir, then another 30 seconds, then stir again, then one last zap adjusted to the "doneness" of the oatmeal.
Sometimes I forget I've put the oatmeal in the microwave, become distracted by helping LP get out the door to school or read an email on my laptop and begin to think about something else entirely.
But Sam never forgets the oatmeal. He listens for the process to start, comes into the kitchen, and assumes the position, stretched out longwise in the narrow space between the refrigerator and the stove, head up, alert to the possibilities.
This morning, because LP isn't feeling well, I got to the oatmeal later than usual. Before I finished preparing it, Pure Luck put on his outdoor gear and called Sam to go for a walk.
Sam did not move.
He looked at me, searchingly, no doubt wondering, where is the oatmeal? He gets to lick the bowl when I finish, you see, and he looks forward to it every morning. For this he remains alert.
When I got up to read the gospel lesson this past Sunday, I misspoke. Where the gospel writer cautioned, "Beware," I read, "Be aware." Those are the watchwords for Advent, and they run counter to the season in some ways. While we attend to mailing packages and Christmas cards, to finishing Christmas knitting or setting up for the Holly Jolly Fair, to hosting or attending gatherings with friends and family, when will we find the time to be aware?
It sounds simple. I look at Sam. Every morning, he listens for the sound of the lid coming off the oatmeal canister, the quarter cup measure in the oats, the milk pouring into the liquid measuring cup and then into the bowl. Perhaps he even hears the top come off the cinnamon and the quiet sprinkle of the warm brown spice; it's possible, if you listen carefully.
Be aware! Keep alert!
Sam would not go to Pure Luck. I said, "Don't worry, buddy. I'll save the bowl for you. Go now."
And so he did.