By Sister Sharon Havelak, OSF
Advent just seems different this year. Oh, the carols are still playing endlessly in all the stores; the frantic searches for “just the right present” and all the baking and preparations are still going on. The endless lists are being carefully drawn up.
But it all seems a bit different.
Perhaps it’s the cold and snow. The need to bundle up and protect oneself from the environment engenders a sense of insulation and isolation. When the temperatures plummet and the snow piles grow taller, it’s easy to just settle in, in some warm and cozy spot.
Over the past few months, a number of my friends and mentors in my justice and peace community have died. During these dark days, just before the celebration of the Christmas season when we celebrate the Peace of Christ, their loss weighs especially heavy.
The death – and life – of Delbert Tibbs has had a surprising impact on me. Delbert, a death row exoneree and anti-death penalty activist, died just before Thanksgiving. He was part of a conference here in Toledo this past October. A passionate and articulate speaker, the depth of his conviction and his peacefulness were breathtaking. I can’t stop thinking about the witness of his life.
And so, this Advent has become one of those “living the tension” experiences, where I need to hold onto polar opposites and realize the presence and integral-ness of both sides. We await the celebration of the Birth of Christ, whose coming over 2000 years ago changed everything.
But it seems as if nothing has changed.
The poor still suffer. Children die of hunger and are gunned down in our schools. Our Earth, in need of healing, is wracked with floods, storms and earthquakes. Rape and murder are rampant on our city streets.
But the promise and the peace of Christ still live on, in unexpected places, in the unlikeliest of people. And so, my prayer at the end of this Advent is that we may be open to be the one who brings Christ into our world, that we may say the one word or do the one action which will impact someone’s life, as Delbert Tibbs did mine.
May we be the peace of Christ.