In the reading for today, the fourth Sunday in Advent, I heard a wonderful phrase in the Gospel from Matthew. The account tells of Joseph learning that Mary is pregnant. He intends to separate from her, since the baby isn’t his. “Such was his intention,” the text states. Unfortunately for his plans, he is given a different message. While I think that angels look nothing like this image, I do think the depiction of Joseph represents his situation pretty realistically. He really had other plans!
Whatever your faith, and whatever texts you read in your tradition, I think we can all recognize those times when we had “an intention” and life sent us in a different direction. I intended to have several children: I had one. I intended to always be in a two parent household: I spent 11 years as a single parent. I intended to remain close friends with someone: she raged at me and stopped speaking.
Now I hold my intentions a little more lightly. We really don’t have complete control over our lives. We need flexibility to deal with the reality that we meet. We don’t have to spend time in the “if only” unless we decide to spend all our time looking back. And sometimes reality is much better than our “best intentions.” After all, when I finished the Gregg summer school course, I intended to never type again. And then they invented computer keyboards!