SOLACE: Soul + Grief

Grief and Joy: An Advent Journey

December 01, 2023 Candee Lucas Season 2 Episode 50
SOLACE: Soul + Grief
Grief and Joy: An Advent Journey
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

In today's episode we explore what it means to experience grief in a time of anticipation of joy.  With thanks for an article by Hayley Wachdorf.

Did you ever feel a profound sense of loneliness and sorrow amid the festive cheer of Advent? You're not alone. Many of us grapple with the paradox of Advent – a time of waiting, filled with both joy and grief. The world around us is ablaze with the glow of celebration, while the heart within struggles with loss and pain. But remember, the Advent season symbolizes a beacon of hope. As the candles on the Advent wreath are lit, we're reminded of the powerful belief that the light of Christ shines bright, even in the darkest corners of our souls.

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Candee:

We welcome you to another edition of Solace: Soul + Grief. I'm Candee Lucas, your host. When we started this ministry, we'd hope to reach those who were grieving and accompany them on their journeys with prayers, reflections, scripture and other writings that could lead them more easily on their grief journeys. We're brought to you by Catholic Cemeteries in the Diocese of San Jose. Remember, you're always welcome in our circle of healing, love and support.

Candee:

While Advent is traditionally a time for looking forward in anticipation, those of us on a grief journey may not always feel in sync with the season. And yet both are a season of waiting, one. for the realization of Jesus Christ and the other for the path of grief to widen and lessen and brighten. Father David Barnes tells us that we begin Advent not by walking, running, leaping or climbing, but, like the two men in the Gospel, we begin by acknowledging our paralysis. We can do nothing without Jesus. This is not just a good place to begin, it is the only place to begin. It is Advent. Liturgically speaking, it's a time to talk about joyful, expectant waiting. The only problem is we really don't want to, because in order to contemplate waiting, we have to slow down, and when we slow down, the griefs and losses of the year might catch up to us. This is one of the paradoxes of Advent that at the time of year when we celebrate the greatest gift God has given us, the very celebration can highlight the vast distance between the promises fulfilled by Christ's coming and the promises that will only be accomplished when he is realized again the renewal of the world and the putting right of all things. Waiting and cultivating hope in the space between those two moments is hard, can be hard. The last few years have shown us that all waiting feels hopeful and expectant. More and more, the struggles in life are seemingly permanent and life-altering. Where is the expectation in serious, long-term illness and death? Where is their joy in the failing health of parents? Our cultural narrative says Christmas is a time to forget troubles and create perfect, magical moments. But is that what God is calling us to do? I think he invites us to line our griefs right up next to us, like the very real things that they are, and then wait for him anyway, in the hope and belief that God is working even in those things, and that's harder than pretending they don't exist. So how do you balance grief and joy at Christmas?

Candee:

Henri Nouwen wrote an essay about Advent that reminds us every year that in the Christian life, we never wait alone. Writing about the biblical account of Mary's visit to Elizabeth after the angel announced to Mary that she would bear God's son, Nouwen writes that the reason these two women were able to see what God was doing and rejoice was because they had created space for each other to wait. They affirmed for each other that something was happening that was worth waiting for. The whole meaning of the Christian community lies in offering a space in which we wait for that which we have already seen. Christian community is a place where we keep the flame alive among us and take it seriously so that it can grow and become stronger in us. In this way, we can live with courage, trusting there is a spiritual power in us, a spark in us to live in this world without being seduced constantly by despair, lostness and darkness.

Candee:

Every year, we can find some of that affirmation in our tradition of lighting the candles of the Advent wreath. The Advent wreath, the candles of prophecy, Bethlehem, shepherds, angels and Christ's birth remind us that we are on a journey together. We do need light along the way, and God will provide it. Most of all, I love what we say when the candle is lit. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it. Thanks be to God. Whether we're ready for it or not, advent is here. We need to hear what it has to say to us. If you need that too, we can remind each other that the light shines in the darkness and, no matter how it seems, the darkness has not overcome it. Thanks be to God, amen.

Candee:

This has been another episode of Solace:,Soul + Grief. Thank you for listening. To help support us, please subscribe at Spotify, Amazon Music, Google or Apple Podcasts. I'm Candee Lucas, your host, Aftercare Coordinator, catholic cemeteries, Chaplain and Spiritual Director. You can reach us at the email or phone number in the show notes. Remember be good to yourselves and with God.

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