If I want to become childlike this Advent, I think there is no better way than to spend time with someone who is already childlike. There are few characters in Ageless Children’s Literature who are more so than Winnie-the-Pooh. This bear of little brain is just the guide I want as I settle into an armchair on a snowy December day with a heart ready to learn how to wait for the Christ Child. And so I open Mr. Milne’s book: “Chapter one: In Which A House Is Built at Pooh Corner for Eeyore.”

One day when Pooh Bear had nothing else to do, he thought he would do something, so he went round to Piglet’s house to see what Piglet was doing.

Nothing else to do?! Don’t we always have something else to do? Adults do at least. Proper children who actually get to be children often have nothing else to do. And as they are already living the life of Pooh bear, they are not much tempted by this invitation. Or rather for children the phrase nothing else to do is like a well-worn path they know and like very much. They do not require an invitation nor directions on how to travel it. For an adult with much, too much to do however, nothing else to do is like a clap of thunder, a lightening-filled sky and a reminder that the heavens will soon be opening wide. What is this nothing else to do which I must be doing? And how do I do it?

…and while he waited for Piglet not to answer, he jumped up and down to keep warm, and a hum came suddenly into his head, which seemed to him a Good Hum, such as is Hummed Hopefully to Others.

My dear Pooh is waiting for his dear friend and jumping up and down. Is this how I should wait for the Christ Child? Jumping up and down? I laugh and think this is what I am trying not to do. But with a quick lesson in patience, I read on and see that Pooh has got a hold of a good hum. In fact it is A Good Hum, such as is Hummed Hopefully to Others. Is this not the song of Advent? Does not the very thought of this good hum expand my heart, and is this not how I should wait for the Christ Child? Spreading hope to others? Here is the good hum:

The more it snows (Tiddely pom),
The more it goes (Tiddely pom),
The more it goes (Tiddely pom),
On snowing.
And nobody knows (Tiddely pom),
How cold my toes (Tiddely pom),
How cold my toes (Tiddely pom),
Are growing.

This is a curious song. It is a song that is both cold and warm. Toes are cold but the air is filled with the bell-like ringing of so many tiddely poms. But I see how this song is like our wait for the Christ Child. That too is both cold and warm. “Hail and blessed be the hour and moment in which the son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, in Bethlehem, in the piercing cold.” Into the cold world, cold with winter, cold with dark hearts, comes the blessed hour through our pure mother in Bethlehem, that little humble house of bread. Light and our mother and bread are all good and warm. Singing of what is both cold and warm seems to be good sense. After all, there is nothing else to do when you wait and sing than to know where you are (in the cold) and what you are waiting for (the warmth of the Christ Child). And when you have belllike tiddely poms to beat back the cold, you can already feel His presence.

He hurried back to his own house; and his mind was so busy on the way with the hum that he was getting ready for Eeyore that, when he suddenly saw Piglet sitting in his best arm chair, he could only stand there rubbing his head and wondering whose house he was in.

There is no wonder I become confused as I hurry, my mind busy with a hum. And yet there is wonder. For I seek my friend, and lo I find He is already in my home and in my own heart. This despite my hurried, humming, confusion. It seems that song I was singing called Him. And though I didn’t notice Him slip in, there is nothing else to do but to rejoice at His presence.

He looked up at his clock, which had stopped at five minutes to eleven some weeks ago… The clock was still saying five minutes to eleven when Pooh and Piglet set out on their way half an hour later.

In this perfect communion between friends there is a mystery of being where time does not enter. This experience of nothing else to do is not like a clap of thunder or a lightening-filled sky. The perfect communion of two friends, however, is like heaven opening wide. When I am with Christ in contemplative prayer, there is nothing else to do but to be with Christ. And it is good to be there.

You have a house, Piglet, and I have a house, and they are very good houses. And Christopher Robin has a house, and Owl and Kanga and Rabbit have houses, and even Rabbit’s friends and relations have houses or somethings, but poor Eeyore has nothing. So what I’ve been thinking is: Let’s build him a house.”

“The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air nests: but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.” If your friend had no where to lay his head, would you not wish to build him a house? David had this sentiment. So did Pooh bear. God told David that He would build him a house.
Yet so often, we want to do something. And we are motivated by love. He has provided for me, and what have I given Him in return? How shall I show my thanks? There is nothing else to do but to give to Him who has given to me.

“We’ve finished our HOUSE!” sang the gruff voice.
“Tiddely pom!”sang the squeaky one.
“It’s a beautiful HOUSE…”
“Tiddely pom…”
“I wish it were MINE…”
“Tiddely pom…”

And love built the house and it was beautiful and the bells rang (tiddely pom) and it was for Him. And I would love to enter into His house, so I look to see if there is nothing else to do before I enter such a beautiful house….

“Well,” said Pooh…”The fact is,” said Pooh… “Well, the fact is,” said Pooh… “You see,” said Pooh…“It’s like this,” said Pooh, and something seemed to tell him that he wasn’t explaining very well, and he nudged Piglet again.

Advent requires humility because this will happen. I love and try to help and find that instead of building, I have unbuilt because I really was not paying attention or being all that attentive to my friend. I was really paying attention to what I wanted to do. And then I stumble and stammer and nudge my friend and look for help or a place to shift the uncomfortable feeling further away from me.

“It’s like this,” said Piglet quickly… “Only warmer,” he added after deep thought.

It is a remarkable thing,” he (Eeyore) said. “It is my house, and I built it where I said I did, so the wind must have blown it here. And the wind blew it right over the wood, and blew it down here, and here it is as good as ever. In fact, better in places.

I find that it is mercy, that other name for the Christ Child, which takes ahold of my going wrong. Pooh and Piglet haplessly took Eeyore’s house not seeing that it was a house, and this left Eeyore in the cold. But they meant to build him a house to keep him warm. In the end, Eeyore experiences cold and warm and a house both lost and found, and Pooh and Piglet are no help at all and, at the same time, a very great help. We must not be surprised when our life is very much like that too. There is nothing else to do but be thankful for the warmth we mysteriously find and not surprised at the cold we negligently bring. The wind of the Holy Spirit blew through the hundred acre wood and made all things work for good. We know not how the spirit moves us, yet we know God will draw good out of all our blind efforts if we but do them with love.

So they left him in it; and Christopher Robin went back to lunch with his friends Pooh and Piglet, and on the way they told him of the Awful Mistake they had made. And when he had finished laughing, they all sang the Outdoor Song for Snowy Weather the rest of the way home.

And after my confession, God rejoices and is filled with mirth and song at the return of His child. And I have nothing else to do but continue to wait happily with the Advent lessons learned from a Pooh bear.
How will I wait for the Christ Child this Advent? Like a Pooh bear. That is to say, with a childlike heart. There is nothing else to do. I will sing a song with bells that ring the warm into the cold (tiddely pom) knowing that He is already with me, and I will give to Him who has given to me, in a manner most imperfect, and after I shuffle about a bit and confess that most imperfect manner in which I did things, I will find that He loves me, that He very much wants to be with me, and that He wishes to sing with me the rest of the way home.