Advent Reflection

Miriam Cleary, O.S.U.
 (As you may know, Sr. Miriam Cleary died on November 23rd.  She wrote this beautiful Advent Reflection just two years ago.  We are blessed to read it again.)

“With Bible in hand I slip behind a wall of time to walk with the women on the way to the tomb.”

With Bible in hand, I slip behind a wall of time to walk with a young couple on the road. She is pregnant, very close to child-bearing. The road is crowded. He is worried. Is she able to sustain the rough ride on the back of their donkey? Will they find a place to stay? Are the houses of their relatives already full of others who have arrived before them? They approach a village. The word is there is no room. Migrants.

I slip behind a wall of time to join them again on the road, now with a very young child in his mother’s arms. They are fleeing, escaping terrorists who would kill the child. Wandering toward a foreign land. Where will they find welcome? Asylum seekers.

With newspaper in hand, I slip behind the wall of distance to join a young family as they get off a sinking boat, into the icy waters, desperate to reach the shore just within reach. People are shouting for help, frightened children being handed one to another, too traumatized even to cry. The shore is crowded. Is there space for any more? Rumors fly. People are being sent back. Displaced persons.

I slip behind a wall of distance to stand again with a young family on the shore. Their child is sick with fever. Their meager supply of food and water has run out. They appeal to others in the teeming multitudes on the shore. Does anyone have medicine? Refugees.

With newspaper in hand I read of terrorists’ attacks in receiving countries. Borders are closing. What are these thousands of migrants, refugees, displaced persons, asylum seekers to do?

What am I to do? “Luxury is a way of being ignorant comfortably” (Amire Baraka). Can I be with them beyond empathy and compassion? Do I dare to believe that God’s Spirit is more powerful than all this human distress? And is working through this pain? Power in an infant lying in a manger.

I look again at the young couple for whom there was no room in the inn and who fled for their lives into Egypt.