Friday, December 20, 2013

This has been our Advent...

Chayo, after baptism yesterday

Beuatiful Roberto and friend of the family, Katya
The last post was the beginning of the Advent season.  The recent weeks since then have been full and rich.  It has been a time of preparation and also of waiting and that is what is meant by Advent. 

Specifically, we have been preparing for Chayo and Roberto's baptism.  This is a process that began back in February and propelled us into a new career, that of being spiritual parents.  Wally and I were earnest in assuming this for Leah, our 2 year old goddaughter, but then there were her older brother and sister who were floundering in the aftermath of their mother's death.  The answer at the time seemed to be the church, the center of life in their village.  The church could become the family and structure that they were lacking.  That's where we began this journey.  Chayo and Robert wanted to be baptized but they had not been to catechism which begins when children are 6.  They were too old to join the classes but the priest said that if they were to be tutored and tested monthly, that if they came to mass weekly, that he would baptize them.  So I said I would do it.  Had I given it a lot of consideration I would have had plenty of reasons to find someone better suited.  I hate to drive, I hate to leave my home, I don't speak Spanish well enough for exegesis and I already have a full-time occupation on the farm, but everything in me said "YES".  So we began meeting each week for study and again for mass and at the end of each month we met with the priest.  In these months of preparation we have been knit together.  We have grown famil-y-ar.  We are family now.

Earlier this week in preparation for their baptism they made their confession.  As I sat in the back of the church looking at the backs of their heads, the way they leaned forward to listen and speak to the priest, how beauty rested gently on them, I saw them through their mother's eyes.   I felt the fullness of hope and expectation.   I felt peace.

The baptism was a concentrated gathering:  the priest, Chayo, Roberto, their father and grandfather and us, the god-parents.   It was a perfect coming together that tied the yarn off of what had become accomplished. It was good.

Each week in Advent a candle is lit to represent an aspect of preparation for the coming of the Messiah.  Last Sunday the pink candle of joy was lit.  Before that the candles of hope and love, and this Sunday, the final week, peace.  As a whole, these candles represent the coming of light into the world. 

This has been our Advent experience.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Advent - a meditation on hope

The Annunciation by Henry O. Tanner
This painting moves me.  I have a book of paintings of the Annunciation.  I am drawn to the renderings of something so powerful and mysterious as an encounter with a call to purpose.  There is no inkling of the cost.  It is the beginning of great and terrible expectations, a swelling of spirit.  I particularly love this painting because it shows Mary of Nazareth as a teenager, just awakened from sleep and on the brink of saying "yes" to God.  How far and deep that "yes" would resonate began in one awe-full moment. 

How can anyone know what is ahead.  This is how I am feeling these days.  I am waking up to a compressed longing  for things to be better in the world and in particular for a few loved ones.  Perhaps the answer is in timing, like pregnancy.  Things are ready when there is ripening.  So much has to happen and be coordinated and that is where the waiting and expectation come into play.  First there has to be hope and then there is preparation with the expectation that it will come to pass.  

I am having a baby shower for something birthing in my soul...I don't know what the baby is yet, but I feel this stirring anticipation.  I want to be ready, I want it to be good so there's preparation: cleaning, beautifying, refining, joy to cultivate into booties for my hope when it comes.

Yesterday I heard of a woman giving birth 4 weeks early.  The baby was taken by caesarean because of fetal distress.  The mother hadn't been eating and she and the baby were dehydrated.  The baby was long but very low in weight and having to start its fragile life in an incubator.

Is this what happens when we don't care for our hope, does it slow the time of ripening, could it shrivel to death?  Doesn't hope, like a fetus, depend on daily nurturing?

And this makes me wonder:    is this what is lacking and why the world is not getting better?   s the second Advent on hold for more hope-ers so that the world's hope can ripen? 

Wait, hope and see.