Sunday, December 05, 2010

Make straight the paths....

Sometimes the honesty is too much.
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In Advent we joyfully anticipate the coming of Christ, the light shining in the darkness - the light the darkness cannot grasp.  Nevertheless, the light seems to enlighten and shine dimly; only growing brighter gradually.  Year after year, season after season, until it shines so brightly at times all we can see is darkness.  And so it seems, that while darkness covers everything, a distant light illuminates what it contains...
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It is in times of trial, dryness, and aridity when our faith is tested and our weakness exposed.  One may have faith, hope, and charity without understanding or consolation...  When everything and everyone disappoints, even when we find nothing in ourselves to approve, there is that one speck of light - one minuscule point of light shining in the darkness - it is just enough.  Just enough for the wait.
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A blogger once asked if anyone ever writes about their discouragements or challenges - even doubts as regards faith and the Church.  He said all the posts he reads are pretty much pious reflections, holy accomplishments, and/or the writer's personal 'witness to hope'.  He wondered if anyone else ever struggled with faith and people of faith, do they ever fall or get discouraged and so on?  It was quite awhile ago that I read that - but I think I'm recalling it correctly and understood what he meant.
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So anyway - this blog is pretty much all about that kind of stuff.  I try to avoid any pretence in what I discuss here - I try to be frank.  It seems to me I write about the stuff that one discovers in the darkness - after it has been exposed to the light, as it were.  Perhaps that is why some readers are disedified by this blog, or do not like what I discuss.  That is fine of course, this is only a personal blog and as in life, friends come and go - and frequently we always fail each other in one way or another.  That too is part of the course.  I somehow think that is what Advent is about - making straight the paths, winnowing the threshing floor, as today's Gospel says.  Maybe just for me and not others.
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"A voice behind me said, 'this is the way, walk in it.'"
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At adoration the other day an older lady at church confided to me that she is not in the holiday spirit, that Advent is just another season for her, that she is somewhat apathetic about Christmas, and so on.  I told her I'm sort of the same way.  I didn't try to tell her anything else - we can't 'fix' things in other people, especially when we are so poor ourselves.  Later I thought about what she said and I decided that is how it is for some of us.  You can't tell people how they are supposed to feel or that the emptiness they experience should be filled with some tenuous joy.  Not at all.  I am convinced however, that the emptiness can be a good sign, a normal process.  It may mean all of the other chicanery we once devised and depended upon have finally failed.  In other words, we no longer have anything we can depend upon in ourselves - we have come face to face with our reality - our existence. 
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Frequently it is in such darkness that one can see just a little, tiny point of light - deep in one's soul - maybe just for a flash... but it is just enough... just enough for the wait.

13 comments:

  1. You are welcome Marie Therese. Unfortunately I posted without editing - now it should read more understandably.

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  2. Fantastic post. You get it. It's comforting to know there's someone else out there who thinks you don't have to be filled with exuberance & 'joy' this season; at least in a feelings sort of way. It's perfectly acceptable to have the blahs or just live in the humdrum & be at peace. Preferably with some chilled baileys & cointreau. ;)

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  3. I love this post- I really do.
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    I'm going to write about what I don't like about God and when I say, write, or do crap like that, those are the times when I learn the most. God will put me in my place and make me cry yet all the while, drawing me closer to himself.
    ****
    My blog administrator adjusted the radio in our car to the black station and he said,"Yeah, I know you like that station." To which I promptly replied, "Why do white people even bother trying to sing?!" hahahaha

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  4. Great post ... that's why I like this blog.

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  5. Great post, thank you...

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  6. Judging by how people have responded to this so far, I think it would really help to have this kind of frankness in homilies from time to time. There is a joy in this kind of darkness and in knowing other people go through the same thing. As I read your point specically about telling other people how they should feel, I realized how often homilies tend in that direction. "This is a time of year for this or that...". That may be, but the reality of what people go through and are truly experiencing is more complex perhaps than the supposed ideal.

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  7. Good post Terry. You are right that we can't tell people what they are supposed to feel. I think maybe one reason that sometimes posts sound phonily pious is that people are afraid to say what's really on their mind. Sometimes others (figuratively) get in their faces and yell and tell them they're going to hell for being so heretical; even though they are only thinking out loud and trying to arrive at some understanding of the seeming contradictions in life.

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  8. I used to get really bummed out around Advent, especially if I was far away from home and family...then I would look at the children around me..how excited they were about the coming of Christmas, and what made them excited...

    And I sat back and examined my attitude..and realized that Satan was doing all he could to make me unhappy....and I was NOT going to allow him to steal my joy in this woderful season.

    So now I focus on things that make ME happy..lighting my Advent candles, the daily Advent calendar with the
    Scripture and the little goodie for each day..putting out my grandma's nativity scene and not putting in Baby Jesus until christmas day ( not getting caught up in the bad feelings--well grandma's passed away do we don't want to stir up any sad feelings so we won't use her nativity scene )..my dad LOVED the holidays and if family wants to sit home and cry in their cocoa then fine let them...all is merry and bright at MY house :)

    The Christmas that REALLY sucked was the year that my dad passed away, and my sis-in-law tok it upon herself to announce that"because dad is not here it wouldn't be Christmas without him, so we're not doing Christmas, we'll just sit home and be quiet and reminicse..." this was AFTER my mom and I travelled long to get there..No tree, no decorations, no dinner no presents no NOTHING..it was like being at a frigging FUNERAL...I remember my mom taking me aside and saying "Let's go someplace FUN." We ended up having Christmas dinner at Denny's and driving around looking at the Christmas lights and went and saw Santa Claus at the mall... My SIL was SO OFFENDED that we ditched her she didn't speak to us for days... :) but we had a Merry Christmas :)

    Sara

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  9. Thank you so much for having the courage to write this. This time of year is cold and dark and there is so much stress, yet there is pressure to pretned to be happy.

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  10. michael r.6:51 AM

    Sara, I love your story!

    Thoughtful post, Terry.

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  11. Belinda - so funny you picked up on the music... LOL!

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  12. I know Mr.T. - Your a black man deep down inside your heart and I'm a Soul Train line dancer.
    - I'm a good one too!

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