Christmas Came Early

Weekly Advent Reflection, Sunday, December 2, 2018

By: Susan Rhodes

Reverend Bob Hetherington often talks about leaning in, listening and being present, or as I think of it, being mindful. I can get lost in the busyness of Christmas preparation during the season of Advent; the perfect Christmas card with three children, that’s a battle. The gifts, the stuff, parties, all of it; it’s just too much. The season of Advent is hard, but our family’s Christmas gift came early this year.

My father Randy McElroy had heart failure in February. He was doing what he loved, hunting, and, as the story goes, he shot two quail with two shots before collapsing in front of my mother and her family in Thomasville, Georgia. A miracle worker, Thomas, performed CPR but Dad grew bluer and my mother watched and prayed. Thomas then performed the Heimlich maneuver and Dad’s heart was shocked into beating. I received the awful phone call about what happened. The days and weeks to follow were difficult, to say the least.

Ten days later, my father had open heart surgery at MCV. Reverend Hetherington showed up at 6 a.m. and prayed with my parents before he went under. Mom and I waited in his room for him to recover but his heart stopped again. We were put in a private room where we prayed with a wonderful nurse and asked God for it not to be the day for Him to take Dad. Christmas came early for the McElroy family.

This year I’m more mindful than ever of God’s blessings and so grateful for St. Mary’s church. My parents are 83 years old and I’ve been given a gift. Bob Hetherington says, ‘lean in’, and this Advent we will live in the moment and appreciate this season, the joyous things, as well as the exhausting ones. Every season with those you love is precious, do all you can to slow down, be present, and say ‘thank you.’