Just when I've been sitting well with the suffering these past few weeks, I stumble and fall now. Grief is like that. Things like holidays can trigger loneliness or sadness and the pattern continues with two steps forward, one step back. The pain ebbs and flows. As the waves wash over, I blink and hang on. The memories haunt me as I wonder about love. I mourn the wedding vows. I crumple to my knees by the side of the bed where we held hands every night.
This time I'm alone in our family home with 4 more children. Their Dad still sees them but emotions are strained and our home is empty of him. I know it, they know it. It feels like a punch to the gut as I watch them hurt from the severed bond of sacred family. This is the exhausting reality of our daily life and magnified now, during a season that should be filled with our family in tact.
I've learned that it's not a pity party to talk about loss because the acknowledgement of the hurt enables us to work through it, heal, and keep moving. Otherwise, we get stuck. Right now we need to keep our souls moving towards the light...Namely towards the star of hope.
In the spirit of keeping things simple, I propose four pledges or goals for our Broken Family Advent. They represent the 4 weeks that we should consider an opportunity to carry the weight of grief to the manger on the road to Bethlehem. As the Holy Family surely encountered...The road is not easy. We know this by now...The best rewards are never easy. Yet, we will walk it, we'll keep moving, and we'll get there! We will arrive with hearts ready to peer over the manger, gazing into the face of a baby Savior.
We will read these on the first Sunday of Advent and each week, holding tight to the hands around us.
Week 2. I vow to think of all those "others" when I'm worn out from the toils of the day, the season, alone with the weight of my grief. In these moments, I will light the candles on our Advent wreath in the honor of all the others who suffer. The silence of my soul will echo prayer and unite my broken heart with theirs. Let me remember that light casts out darkness.
Week 3. I vow to be thankful. Here lies the best glimpse of the season and it begins in the manger. If I truly love the Christ baby who came to relieve us of this earthly suffering through His birth, death, and resurrection, I will pause each day in thanksgiving. Let us share the thankful things in our lives each week with one another.
Week 4. I vow to hold baby Jesus. Let us practice holding Him this last week of Advent. If I look into His eyes, I will see the whole world...He came for everyone. Let us see ourselves, along with all those we struggle with, in the eyes of this Godly baby. Let us see that he loves all of us. May this help us grow in love and reconcile our sorrows.
May we all be reminded that the peace of that baby King is the best beginning and the happiest ending.
Catholic Resources on Facebook:
Journey of Hope Parish Program
Journey of Hope Conference 2017