OPINION: Celebrating the light to remember who we are

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By NANCY CORCORAN, CSJ
Chaplain
Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph 

ADVENT
December is a holy month.
Maybe it is the dark, silky silence that descends so early
that speaks to (us) of reverence.
Maybe it is the promise that December holds
that no matter how dark, how cold,
how empty it can get,
the Light is coming back.
Something always shifts in (us) when December arrives
(We) embrace the darkness,
and are eager for the coming solstice
when the whole world is still and holds its breath,
waiting to be reborn again.   – Meg Casey

The word ‘advent’ comes from the Latin ad-to and venire-come. In the Northern Hemisphere, Christians celebrate Advent during the winter solstice.

The winter solstice is the time when Earth is tilted as far away from the sun as it will be all year. The winter solstice results in the longest period of darkness, the shortest days and the longest nights. For Christians, Advent is a time of waiting for the Light to come. During this time, Christians remember the birth of Jesus the Christ.   

As Christians celebrate Light returning into the world, the Jewish community celebrates Hanukkah, the miracle of Light that does not go out, and the memory of what God can do with but a little oil.

CELEBRATING LIGHT AND LOVE
Both are festivals celebrating Light. Both celebrations offer us “sabbath time.”

Sabbath time is when we pause our labor to remember ‘who we are and whose we are.’  We take time out of our busy-ness to stop, to rest and to be fully human. These are times when we pause our labor to be with those we love and to demonstrate our care for others. A time of Light! A time of Love!

Kahlil Gibran’s reflects on the connection between love and labor in his seminal work, The Prophet: Work is love made visible. And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy. For if you bake bread with indifference, you bake a bitter bread that feeds but half man’s hunger…And when you work with love, you bind yourself to yourself, and to one another, and to God.

Gibran is in touch with Jesus’ rendition of the great commandment: “Love your neighbor AS YOURSELF.”

This is an especially difficult commandment for women in our society. From birth, women are conditioned to think of everyone else FIRST. Consider the women in your life and encourage them to follow Jesus’ words.

Gibran counsels that when we work with love, we first bind ourself to ourself then to our neighbor, and finally to God.

Those of us who are blessed with work understand that our labor offers us a chance to make such love visible. During these celebratory times, we remember those who cannot labor due to the reality of Covid-19 and we remember those who must labor for us on the frontlines.

God bless us…EVERYONE!

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