Tomorrow we light a new Advent candle. This week of Hope will be ending shortly. Where did you find Hope? When, as in the First Reading, we are given the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, we are told we will see our Teacher who will say to us This is the way. Walk in it. Where did you see the Way? Were you able to walk in it, despite the trial you were experiencing?
Life seems dark lately, mirroring the season and the longer nights. I can see the Light which illuminates the Way. Hope was my companion who appeared at various junctures along the path. I am grateful for a few long distance phone calls that sparked good conversations and helped me turn up my lamp. A friend sent a lovely story about a clown in Mexico who had died and how he was honoured, showing the value of human life. Another dear heart is arranging a soup drop off. If we must eat the bread of adversity, it is nice to have some friendship soup to dip it in.
Two moments stand out though as Hope-filled Light. The first story is that of a friend whose disabled son became critically ill this week, leaving the family with a tough decision about how to proceed medically. After thoughtful prayer and discernment, they chose not to continue with the extraordinary measures he was receiving to stay alive because his life would always now be compromised. They asked the doctor to remove him from the ventilator. Much to everyone’s great surprise, he was able to breathe on his own. Such a gift! The family immediately chose to return to full ordinary care and joyfully welcomed their son home shortly afterwards. The struggle with making the decision about how much to intervene is soul-searching work, especially for those whose faith informs the choice. I believe God was saying to them, here is the bread of adversity and the water of affliction…and here am I. Keep your eyes on me. Here is the Way. Walk in it with love and trust. This young man’s life was not yet coming to a natural end. God had other plans.
The second instance is an ongoing dialogue that I am having with a woman who is also dying, although she tells me that she is in remission. Sometimes, when we talk she is upset about something that has gone on, the crumbs of adversity are swept up impatiently by her own admission. She gets frustrated easily. I know these feelings. I have those moments when in my head I am rolling my eyes and silently saying mockingly, Really? That is so tragic! to people who have no great affliction except the drama they insist on creating. I lack patience in those moments and am afraid that I will be mean-spirited. I want to shake the person and tell them to be grateful and get over themselves–which is really the message that I need to hear for myself when I am like that.
Some days I wish I had more to offer this woman than listening attentively but she always tells me that I make her feel better. I am glad that I can scatter some Hope for her. The truth is that this time, she made me think about something and unknowingly planted her own seeds of Hope within me which blossomed several hours later–in the middle of the night, after my Examen when I recalled our conversation. She pointed me to the Way and I was able to walk in it peacefully.
This is our great God, the One who binds up our wounds, lights our path, gathers the brokenhearted and numbers the stars. Praise be the Creator!
Where did you sow Hope this week?
Who planted Hope within you?
Star-Maker, you light my path as you scatter the bread of adversity upon it, whispering This is the Way. Walk in it. May I do so with great trust and much courage. Amen.