Advent has begun! In the Christian world, we have entered a time of “expectant waiting.” These four weeks are so much more than commercial preparations for Christmas. They invite us into a sacred time, a time of living with hope in the midst of uncertainty, or even despair.
I choose hope. With each step on my surgically repaired broken leg, I face some pain, look past fear, and believe I will walk and dance again. I hope. The image of my mother’s purple, paralyzed legs return, but so do memories of her courage and stamina. I gratefully absorb all of her legacy as I heal, one day at a time.
In the context of the world’s brokenness, however, my one broken bone seems so small…my one life, insignificant. The unending flow of Syrian refugees, the startling attack on citizens of Paris, and the confusing and constant images of gun violence in the U.S. come together in an anguished sob. I join my brokenness with the world’s, my grief with yours. It feels like we stand before a Well of Sadness as members of the human family. We stand together as individuals, each carrying concerns, fears, a hurting heart. This is the reality I bring to the season of hope this year.
Many of us try to avoid the Well of Sadness. When life brings loss, chaos, or betrayal, we skirt the edges to avoid the darkness and consuming pain we might find there. We are convinced there is no way out of such a place. It doesn’t matter that our own tears are part of the deep waters, the Well is to be avoided at all costs. The cost, though, is the best part of who we are. The journey through the Well of Sadness, no matter how we get there, brings us closer to our True Self, our Divine spark, our Source of Hope.
I’m reminded of a friend of mine who landed in Sadness a few years ago after a horrific loss. This month, she is hosting a Tree of Light event to remember loved ones and to assist the Syrian refugees. Like Mary and Joseph, like the refugees, she is making her own Advent journey with a hopeful heart. She courageously travels through the Well of Sadness and finds herself connected with folks across the world.
How can I do any less? I will keep going, aligning myself in prayer and in effort, with those facing great challenge. Each step, however risky, teaches me patience and courage. I, like my friend or the refugees or you, do not know the future. I surrender my attempts at control, I place my expectant heart in the hands of a loving God. I hope.
Peace be with you,