Once again, we arrive at the time of year when we are invited to pause and move inward, to quiet ourselves and reflect on the many ways that God breaks into our daily lives. Advent 2020 is upon us and here in the Northeast nature herself seems to join in beckoning us to stillness. The beautiful garden viewed from my office has offered the last of her vegetables and almost all of her flowers as she begins to lay fallow, to rest and renew.
Here at Marian Woods, we enter into the Advent season grateful that we have been spared the virus thus far and we hold in prayer those who are sick and those who have been taken from us. We are also grateful for the many who have sustained us through their gifts and prayer during this time. Life has changed for all of us, but especially for those who suffer the anguish left in the place of a lost loved one.
As I began writing this morning, two seemingly unrelated occurrences called for my attention and connected for me in a synchronistic and meaningful way. First, wonderful neighbors, including our local firemen, arrived at Marian Woods with generous donations throughout the food drive that Marian Woods sponsored. Second, an article I picked up recounted the gospel story of the woman, who after years of suffering, was cured when she touched the hem of Jesus’ garment as he passed by. We are told that Jesus felt healing power go out from him and that the woman didn’t ask or speak. Her need and her faith brought forth the response.
Is that not what happened for the neighbors who brought food to Marian Woods to be distributed to those in need at this time of pandemic? The suffering of others, “strangers,” touched them, and a response, a healing response came forth. Also significant, was the joy in those who responded. They seemed grateful to answer the gospel imperative to feed the hungry, to bring food and comfort to their brothers and sisters. This type of encounter is happening all over the world in large and small, yet inspiring ways. For Christians, Advent beckons us to ponder the many “touches to the hem” that we have experienced in our own lives, as well as those that brought forth a response from us.
Christmas is not only a celebration of the babe of Bethlehem in his mother’s arms, but also of the one whose very presence healed, and who challenges us to the same. As we move toward this beautiful feast, I wish for you a few minutes of peace at the beginning or end of your busy days, when you can fold into yourself and notice who you have been throughout the day, who you have comforted, who you have smiled at – the many ways, often unnoticed by you, that you have offered yourself to the healing of our world.
In closing, I share these lines from the poem Kindness by Naomi S. Nye:
Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside, you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing. You must wake up with sorrow. you must speak to it till your voice catches the thread of all sorrows and you see the size of the cloth. Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore, only kindness that raises its head from the crowd of the world to say It is I you have been looking for, and then goes with you everywhere like a shadow or a friend.
Facing into the future, may our hope, faith and kindness bring light and healing to our world.
Blessed Advent ̴ Joyous Christmas!
Sr. Aileen Donovan, OP
Marian Woods, Inc.