The calendar page has turned and we find ourselves firmly in December. The birds and squirrels have made themselves at home at the feeder, and the chickadees courteously request more seed when said feeder becomes depleted. We have settled into our winter routine.
On this chill day our thoughts are with the many Water protectors holding the Dream in the cold at Standing Rock.
It seems our country has settled into a time of high anxiety, of anxious waiting for the new administration, and the chaos and suffering they have promised to unleash. We stand firmly in two places. On one hand, we anticipate the Solstice, and for Christians, the birth of Jesus. We await the return of the sun/son and the growing warmth that will come with spring. (No wonder we celebrate Advent and Christmas in this dark, cold time of Northern Hemisphere winter!) At the same time, we anticipate the near future with foreboding, and deep concern for those who are most vulnerable to ruthless power.
Jennie and I went to a concert by the Rose Ensemble Friday evening. As always, it was a treat for ears, soul and psyche. Their program was entitled: A Rose in Winter: The Miracle of New Life in the Dark of Night. In the program notes was a reminder that in the Medieval and Renaissance periods, Advent was a time of awaiting the end of the world, and the return of Jesus. It was filled with messianic impulses, and the hope for renewal and an end to suffering in a world that was difficult, even treacherous. We, too, reside in such an epoch and world.
In this time of anticipation and change, we are reminded that one person’s hope can be the source of another’s fear and despair. In winter we remember that Andrew Jackson, the hero of many on the right of our political system, defying the Supreme Court, drove our ancestors from their homes in the American Southeastern states, setting them on a long winter walk to Oklahoma. A great many died along the way; all suffered terribly. Conversely, these events were welcomed with gratitude by the settlers who took over the stolen farms, frequently moving into Indian homes before the fire had gone out in the kitchen stoves. Now those who assume leadership in January promise to Jackson and steal from, and persecute, the elderly, young, and marginalized, and give what is stolen to those who have supported their climb to power.
In this time of great global challenges, the world appears to be splintering into fiefdoms ruled by those without vision. Today, the second Sunday in Advent, as we await the return of the sun, the birthday of Jesus, and the coming to power of those who openly hate the vast majority of the people with whom they share this country and world, we wonder how best to meet the needs of this, our age.
Many of us in the U.S. realize we are not alone in our concern, nor in our bewilderment. The challenge we share with our brothers and sisters around the world is that of building a global community of great diversity, one that can meet the social, environmental, and spiritual crises of our time, a community that holds a holy, sustainable dream and acts on it. Sadly, it seems we must do this without the aid of our elected leaders.