Written by: Bro. Brian Poulin
Saturday of the First Week of Advent
Advent is an omega and alpha kind of time. Each December brings ample opportunities to reflect on the events of the concluding calendar year, as some of us anticipate the announcement of Time’s Person of the Year and others use social media to share their past year’s music listening habits or most photogenic moments. Yet, the first Sunday of Advent also marked the beginning of a new liturgical year and many of us are oh so ready to welcome the clean slate of a new year, in this case 2022, as if it will somehow be free of the headaches and heartaches that we have been enduring since January.
This is a time of nostalgia mixed with hope. We savor those memories of the last year that filled us with awe, love, or joy, not yet knowing for sure which ones will fade with time and which will endure. We do not forget the memories of pain or suffering though, as they play a key role in shaping our hopes for a better world, and may it come sooner rather than later. For those of us whose lives rotate around a school calendar, December provides a welcome waypoint: we’ve made it this far…
New birth is an archetypal symbol of hope. It is easy for us to imagine a world full of possibility for an infant child just starting out on life’s journey. For at least one brief moment, we may even be able to forget whatever societal disadvantages a newborn inherits due to place of birth, economic circumstance, gender, or ethnic heritage. After all, maybe this will be somebody who can beat those odds, or maybe the world will change enough to soften the obstacles posed by bias and injustice. We hope for both the new life of the individual and newness in the world (or worlds) we all inhabit. We also dream of the transformative impact this brand new person can make in advancing the healing our world needs.
Those of us who work with young people have a special opportunity to renew hope within ourselves, especially when those we have taught, mentored, or otherwise encountered remain within our sphere of awareness. The last thirteen years have given me the opportunity to see adolescents develop into educators, healthcare professionals, vowed religious, parents, and policy workers. With new opportunities for laypeople to take their place in our Marist community and mission, it is especially exciting to see our Marist Young Adults express their desire to remain Marist regardless of the state of life to which they’re called, especially when they want to continue ministering to young people within our charism. What better validation of our activities than to know that young people we serve want to follow in our footsteps, even as they forge new trails of their own?
So as we consider signs of hope this Advent, we can be inspired by the example of our elders, including what many of them continue to do. We can also look to whoever we consider to be our peers. However, it is the young in particular, including their myriad vulnerabilities, who reassure me that there is still a chance for this world to evolve more fully into it’s potential.
Lord, may your Kingdom come, so that it may be on earth as it is in heaven.
This week’s ‘ear candy’ reminds us of the opportunity and invitation we each have to make our world a better place—and that to solve any problem we must first recognize that something is wrong. The ‘brain food’ concretely expresses what Advent hope can mean in our world today.
Ear Candy: “The Flower” by Michael Franti & Spearhead (featuring Victoria Canal)
Brain Food: “This Advent, Make Room for a Future without Fear” by Alice Camille
Come back on the first Saturday of next month for a new post!