I love Advent. Every year I make my wreath, light the candles, immerse myself in the music of Gentle Night — the St Louis Jesuits music that filled my childhood home. I am forever grateful to my parents for my Catholic upbringing, which for me was my introduction to social justice but also the mystery and wonder of holy rituals like Advent.
As we begin Advent, we light one candle in the midst of all the darkness in our lives and in the world. It symbolizes our longing, our desire, our hope (Praying Advent; an incredible resource from Creighton University in my hometown Omaha)
Of course as I grew up I learned that ours was hardly the only tradition of lighting candles in the darkest of winter; yearning for hope, for meaning, for a belief that justice will come. Hanukkah with its own very unique significance and traditions and also centuries before the Christians, are the Celtic roots of Advent .I love this beautiful piece by Caroline Oakes quoting Meg Casey in On-Being
December is a holy month. Maybe it is the dark, silky silence that descends so early that speaks to me of reverence. Maybe it is the promise that December holds — that no matter how dark, how cold, how empty it can get, the light is coming back. Something always shifts in me when December arrives — I embrace the darkness, and am eager for the coming solstice when the whole world is still and holds its breath, waiting to be reborn again.
the beauty of Christmas shines through in the sharing of small gestures of concrete love. It is not alienating, is not superficial, is not evasive; on the contrary, it widens the heart, opens it to give freely
There are so many ways for us to act to make this season more meaningful, to make the world we long for. The one I lift up this Sunday is organized by the amazing Cecilia Munoz gifting us with the opportunity to welcome and support newly arriving refugees from Afghanistan. An inspiring new bi-partisan coalition Welcome US organized to support Afghan families as they build new lives in communities across America. You can make a donation, contribute frequent flyer miles, sponsor a family, connect with activity in your own city. The stories of kindness and human connection from Americans of all walks of life are a powerful antidote to the darkness of our times. We are also this.
Take a deep breath in the solemn darkness. Light a candle. Take action- whether to a stranger, a neighbor, or your own family — that speaks to your own heart. Welcome Advent.