Sunday, December 2, 2012
light the advent candle one
I first began to appreciate the season of advent as a Jesuit Volunteer. Living simply, working with the poor and marginalized, and being away from home led to many of my usual Christmas traditions feeling empty. Even participating in the adopt-a-family programs felt hallow. I thought of the families I worked with who were receiving the gifts and thought that even the best Christmas gifts wouldn't heal the loneliness they felt and the systemic poverty they experienced. My heart had a difficult time moving past the strong consumer foundation of what Christmas has become in the United States and how this foundation further marginalizes the poor in our society.
In all that confusion and disillusionment, I connected strongly to the themes of advent: waiting in joyful hope for God, striving for peace in our world. This year, my community is sponsoring an at-home advent reflection group following the at-home retreat written by Ronald Raab, C.S.C of the downtown chapel in Portland, Oregon. Paul and I did this retreat last year, and I loved Fr. Ron's simple, profound reflections. Fr. Ron ministers to the homeless, poor, and marginalized in Portland, and many of his reflections come out of his experience of working with those "on the margins." In Fr. Ron's advent webinar, he reflects that loneliness is the birth of Christmas itself. This loneliness comes from the deepest places in us, waiting for something more. Thus, when we open ourselves to the "something more," Advent can lead to a new beginning for us.
We'll be using this group reflection resource and will be using this book for our daily reflections. I highly recommend it if you're looking for a good at-home Advent retreat!