Monday, December 14, 2020

Ruth Krall, A Meditation: The Third Sunday in Advent


The photo is by Hans Vivek, who has generously made it available for online sharing at Unsplash.

Ruth Krall has written a beautiful sermon for the third Sunday of Advent, to follow on the one she wrote as Advent began, which I shared here a number of days ago. Ruth writes, 

It is the third Sunday in Advent. The Indian Festival of Lights (Diwali) [i] is just past. American Thanksgiving [ii] is almost here. We are in the season of Hanukah.[iii]  Kwanza [iv] lies ahead. The Winter Solstice lurks just out of sight in our imagination. [v] Christmas Eve and Christmas Day catch our excited anticipation. [vi] If we are Canadians, living north of the border, Boxing Day soon arrives. [vii] New Year's Eve allows us to reflect on the past year and update our hopes for the New Year.  [viii] New Year's day is filled with memories of family and friends — gathered to celebrate a new beginning, a new year. 

Steamed tamales, pork roasts, Cajun bar-b-que, savory rotisserie chicken, our mother's fruit salad and Sees candy stand in as talismans of love, joy and hope.  

We are grateful for gifts — tangible and intangible — that have filled our lives with joy and with community. Friendships old and new; near and far; living and living only in our memories: these gifts and many more memories crowd into our awareness and we break into song. Our end-of-the-year reveries cause us to spin tales of explanation and exhortation. 

The "turning of the sun"  towards the light begins slowly (and almost imperceptibly) to bring us longer days and warmer days. The promises of this season will be fulfilled when birds such as the Great Horned Owl and the Golden Eagle begin to build nests; the daffodils, grape iris, and crocus buds push through the snow: each talisman of hope serves as a harbinger of life’s exuberance.  

Here in the Sonoran Desert, the Palo Verde trees will bloom in all of their golden extravagance, the tiniest cactus plant will reveal its presence by bright purple flowers; and the kestrel will hide her nest from human views. In each tiny blossom, we hear the music of spring arriving.   

As I prepare this meditation, refrigerated trucks, bearing many different brand names, are leaving a manufacturing plant in Michigan — carrying chests of dry ice and boxes of vials of life-saving vaccine for a nation brow-beaten by the Covid virus (and, sad-to-say, a nation's people abandoned by its national and regional political leaders). 

There is sadness because of the lives lost; there is caution because of manufactured fear; there is hope for the children and for their grandparents. After holding our breath for so many long and dreary months, the slow exhale and the sudden inhale speak of our distress in ways we have no words to use. Hearing about the truck's steady parade of hope, tears spread down over our cheeks and onto our clothing.  

I am so grateful for honorable men and women who have sought to guide us through this global pandemic: Dr. Fauci, Governor Andrew Cuomo, along with the un-named and invisible doctors and nurses who have risked their own lives and have endured unrelieved weeks and months of stress to save as many lives as they could save. I cannot imagine how they have survived. I can barely imagine their sadness and the tears they hold back so they do not burden each other with their grief. 

Let us lift a glass of champagne to them and may we remember to be grateful to them as we move through the next sixteen months. They have kept our hope alive in the most desperate year I have ever lived through. Their patience with our fear has been enduring — and needed.  Like St. Paul they have kept the faith. [ix]

It seems appropriate to me that this life-saving vaccine arrives in the universe during the season of hope — the season of light. Just as Mary and Joseph lived in protective hope for their baby's safety; just as Mary and Martha waited in hoped for their brother's resurrection; just as Mary of Magdala, the great healer, lived in hope of the resurrection, we too now must live in hope. It must, however, not be a na├»ve or a blind hope.We must seek wisdom and we must seek the healing that our collective wisdom contains.  

Our individual and collective future — just like the wisdom of those three women - (our foremothers in faith and hope; in things seen and unseen) — hangs in a slender balance. The universe is out of sorts and we, like them, must work together to heal its doubts, fears, and anguish. With the ointment of our tears, we must touch and lance our culture's wounds so they can heal; so that life overcomes death; so that faith survives for another day, week, or year.  

In this liturgical season of waiting, the lights around us — in our homes, great cathedrals, and our neighborhoods remind us that hope — like beauty — is found in the many small details of our lives. In our long bones, we hope for healing — healing from our deepest griefs and protective healing for our physical and spiritual bodies.   

We hope for our children that they both can and will grow up healthy in body, mind, spirit and soul. We pray for a rebuilding of our communities — a rebuilding that is more equitable, kinder, and more robustly filled with justice. 

I live on land that was once the homeland of pre-invasion Amerindian families. I try to honor this history with faithfulness to their vision— that all of us need to make decisions that will influence the lives of seven generations hence— in healing ways; in restorative ways; in just ways. Let us remember all of our relations during this time of waiting; during this holy season of Advent.

Amen

Notes:

i. November 14, 2020

ii. November 26, 2020

iii. December 10 -18, 2020

iv. December 26 , 2020 – January 1, 2021

v. December 21, 2020

vi. December 24 and December 25

vii. December 26, 2020

viii. December 31, 2020 and January 1, 2021

ix. "I have fought the good fight; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith."  2nd Timothy 4:7 (NIV)

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