Monday, December 30, 2013

The Love of the Incarnation

Do you see?
Do you believe?
A little baby,
our God!
it's cold
and yet He chose
to be among the lowly.

With me?
Like me?
A perfect love,
oh, God!
This world
it's cold
and yet He chose
to be among the lonely.

Son of man?
Born of Mary?
A human being,
and God!
The night
it's cold
and yet He chose
to be among the weary.

In me?
Through me?
A merciful Savior,
my God!
This soul
it's cold
and yet He chose
to make this creature holy.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Ode to Ordinary

Perhaps you know, and perhaps you don't know, but the Catholic Church has just begun a new year.  It is called the Season of Advent.  Advent is one of seven liturgical seasons celebrated by the Catholic Church.  Just like January begins the calendar year, so Advent begins the Church year.  And just like December ends the calendar year, the season known as Ordinary Time is what sums up our Church year.  That means the Church year for 2013 came to a close on Saturday, November 30th, the last day of Ordinary Time.  I am excited for Advent.  Advent prepares us for Christmas as it is meant to be a time of anticipation - we are longing for the birth of Jesus as well as for His second coming.  However, I must admit that I feel a little sad about having to say goodbye to Ordinary Time.

I just came back on Saturday from New Mexico after having celebrated Thanksgiving with my family.  When I had first moved away and started returning home for vacations, I expected everyone to gather together so we could run around and do as many exciting things as possible.  "We can go on a hike," I'd say, and a friend or my sister would say, "Yeah!  And then we can do dinner and a movie in the evening!"  "Maybe we can squeeze in a short road trip, too!" my mom and I would suggest.  But as much as we talked about these things, they almost never happened.  Mostly we would just have simple meals together, play with the dogs outside, go for walks, fall asleep to movies at home... Nothing outside of the ordinary.  I wasn't quite sure how I felt about that until recently.

Thanksgiving has never been one of my favorite holidays.  It seemed like nothing ever happened, like it always moved so slowly.  Plus, I never really enjoyed the turkey.  "No, no," someone would promise, "You'll like it this year," or "You'll like the way this person makes the turkey," but I never did.  So, Thanksgiving, not my favorite.  However, I was really looking forward to it this year since I hadn't been home for Thanksgiving in a while.  I had forgotten about all the unexcitement and the turkey; I just wanted to see my family.  Ideas of great big adventures didn't really creep in, either.  We did the usual: played games, ate, helped take care of my nephew and niece, bought some toiletries, visited the convent, and slept.  When I got back on the train I carried with me a vacation that had been just right.  Not thrilling, not boring, but Ordinary.  It was perfect.  I got to be a part of my family's daily comings and goings, to be immersed in what they live on a regular basis.  I could breathe in their smiles, touch their weariness, walk with their triumphs.  For five gorgeous days their routine was mine.  Somehow, I didn't recognize the beauty of that before.

After several months of Ordinary Time, I am having difficulty letting go.  Holding on to the ordinary has enabled me to welcome the imperfections of life; it has been stability in the struggle, and now it is gone.  But a new season is here, one which can help me appreciate the surprises in life and the patience of waiting for those surprises.  Advent.

as in "arrival" or "coming"
you demand my attention
from every direction

as in beginning
not end
your purpose, to renew
to seek all people of good will
that Christ may dwell within

the truth
that is past future present
you cry out
as a woman giving birth
you promise us Emmanuel again