Sunday of Advent
November 27, 2016
Darters and Strollers
Well, here we are, in the busiest shopping days of the year.
Several years ago an author named Robert Winters made some observations about shoppers during these days of the Christmas season. He describes two kinds of shoppers in the malls.
First, there are the darters. These people are walking along and then something catches their eye.
The darters abruptly change direction and dart over to look at a Keurig coffee maker or a Hollister shirt or whatever it is. They move so quickly that you have to put on the brakes real fast to avoid bumping into them.
And then there the strollers. These people walk like a bridal party slowly making their way down the aisle.
The strollers are creeping along, taking in each piece of merchandise. They are just savoring every item they see.
Robert Winters says that the darters and the strollers have one thing in common. Both of them are so wrapped up in the things they are seeing that they are unmindful of and not heeding the other shoppers around them.
Winters’ observations help us to appreciate today’s gospel.
Jesus refers back to the time of Noah. He says: “In those days people were eating and drinking and marrying, up to the day Noah entered the ark.
“They knew nothing until the flood came and swept them away. So will it be at the coming of the Son of Man.”
Now there is nothing wrong with eating and drinking and getting married. But apparently they were doing all of this without being alert to the coming flood – something like the darters and strollers in the malls.
Jesus also says: “Two men will be out in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding meal; one will be taken and one will be left.”
The idea here is that those who are taken and ready for the Lord may not be doing anything different from the others. But they are doing things with a different awareness.
They are what I call “heeders” – spelled H-E-E-D-E-R-S. Unlike the darters and the strollers, they are heeding both God and those around them as they do their jobs or shop or whatever.
I’ve got a few ideas on what might it means, practically speaking, to be a heeder rather than a darter or a stroller.
Heeders reserve some time each day for prayer. They maintain some inner space for quiet, for being in touch with God.
In this way, heeders remain aware of the spiritual. They see all the items and decorations as good but they remain aware that only our relationship with God matters in the long run.
Heeders also probably try to grow in their faith. They don’t stay stuck in the understanding of God that they learned as children.
Heeders are awake to what God is saying to them right now in the gospels. They are awake to new possibilities maybe about God’s unconditional love or about our response of social justice, things like that.
Then heeders carefully reserve time for their husband or wife or children or close friend. They are not submerged in their job or self-absorbed in some way.
Heeders are attentive to persons, the important persons in their lives and those who are with them at any given moment. They stay attentive to persons as making up what life is really all about.
And finally, heeders care for those in need. They don’t blame the poor for their plight.
Instead, heeders are alert to the pain of the sick, to the suffering of the depressed, or the desperation of the hungry or homeless. They are alert to Jesus being present in these persons.
So, the message today: don’t be a darter or a stroller. Don’t be just wrapped up and absorbed in the stuff of the season.
Instead, be a heeder. We may be doing some of the same things as everyone else, but remain aware, awake, attentive, and alert to what really