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A reflection for the first Sunday of Advent

Sr. Susan Kidd, CND

October 23 – “Would you consider writing an Advent reflection?  You can pick whatever week you want?”  Sure!  It’s still 6 weeks away, thanks for the invitation!  I better choose week one though, “Get’er done and in.”  Days pass, weeks even!  Remembrance Day holiday seemed a good day to write.  It was a beautiful day so guess which activity called more loudly and clearly?

So here I am, almost a month since the invitation and days before the feast of Christ the King.  I have been pondering the readings, which do not feel as “catchy” as I had hoped.  The semester at UPEI is winding down which means the anxiety of the students is ramping up!  I am struck by the number of times in a given day I hear myself trying to offer some consolation to these stressed young adults with the words “Be in this moment.  What lies ahead is ahead for a reason.”  Our call is to be present here and now.   As Saint Paul reminds us, God’s grace is sufficient; and then I add, for today.

So then, why Advent?  Why do we need 4 weeks to prepare when my focus is to be in this moment?   How do I keep my eye on today and still enter fully into time of preparation?  I find that same challenge phrased differently throughout the year.  I need to be looking ahead, planning, anticipating while recognizing and responding to God’s presence here and now.  And isn’t Christmas the ultimate celebration of Incarnation, here and now?

The simple answer is to look out the window at about 4:00 pm any afternoon.  With the days so short and the nights so dark, I need something to look forward to!  We need something to offer hope in the midst of what can look like despair.  “For this too shall pass” with its Persian roots, re-appearing in Jewish folklore, English poets, even Abe Lincoln added to its usage.  Stories of the past are good reminders of realities of the present.  Saint Paul reminds us in the Second Reading, the grace of God has already been given to us and we have been enriched in speech and knowledge of every kind.

Last night I was asked to speak about vocations to the Intro to Catholic Studies class.  When it came time to talk about the psychological assessment that is part of the application process, I quoted “the best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour.”  Yes, people change and we are all called to constant conversion to fully take on the mind and heart of Christ.  But don’t wait to graduate or finish paying a student loan.  Even Pinterest reminds me “Be that person today!”  And then, like the prophet in the First Reading, God “will meet those who gladly do right.” 

Today’s Gospel sounds like an admonition, almost rather doom and gloom.  On one level, it doesn’t seem to fit the day or the readings.  So, where is the element of truth for me, for us today?  When I think of Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys and her (and our) Visitation-Pentecost spirit, maybe multi-tasking can teach me something today.  Can I be here now and know that there is more?  It’s a challenge.  And maybe it is my Advent challenge this year.  As I live these darker days and feel my spirit caught in the possible “doom and gloom” of ordinary time, I choose to keep awake and to know that Light is coming again and again to break the darkness … thanks be to God!

Some thoughts to ponder as your journey begins:

And how is this time of year for you? 

Where do you find light in the darkness?

What tips can you offer to be present in this moment while anticipating the next?

How do you “Keep awake”?

Sister Susan Kidd

 

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