Waiting. A poem for the 4th week of Advent.


We wait in hope
But what about when hope seems lost?

We wait in wonder,
But what about when wonder is gone?

We wait patiently,
But we are so impatient.

We wait with love,
But it is quickly fading.

O Come, O come Emmanuel
Even when our hearts seem hard.

Come to change our hearts,

Cosmic Birth, by Mary Southard, CSJ

So that we may never fully lose
All hope, wonder,
Patience, and love.

Come and fill us with your mercy
And compassion so that we might
Never lose sight again.

Come. Be with us.
Stay with us.
O Emmanuel we
Need you most right now.

~Sister Clare

Crying Out in the Wilderness

“A voice cries out in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way of our God!'”

This Advent verse leaves me a bit befuddled this year.  What good is a voice crying out in the wilderness?  Why not a voice crying out in the city, the temple, the marketplace? She might reach a broader audience.  Who is in the wilderness to receive the message?

I suppose it would be the outcasts, those cast aside, those who are different or marginalized.  I suppose it would be the poor in spirit–those who know they cannot survive without God.  I suppose, in actuality, they would probably be the most receptive to the message of Love’s coming.  Perhaps, the crier knew her audience after all.

And maybe there was no one in the wilderness to whom to cry.  Perhaps it was only the ears of the desert animals and plants that were open to the message being spoken.  Maybe the message was for no one other than the one who cries.  Maybe it was a cry for her own heart–a heart in deep need.

I don’t often cry aloud for God; usually my prayer is thought silently in my heart and head or written in my journal.  However, the other night I awoke in the middle of the night and did just that–cried aloud to God.  Expressing my angst and need verbally was a different kind of prayer.   It was cleansing and real and necessary.

Once on retreat when I was younger, we went off into the woods in groups of three.  We linked arms in a circle facing out to the forest and we yelled our prayer and praise.  Again, my love for Jesus is often something spoken only in the intimacy of my own heart.  To yell it for all to hear was an annunciation about which I had to think:  “Do I really mean this enough to yell it in front of others?”  I yelled with conviction.  How often do we express our love in such a dramatic way?  We should do it more–

–like the crier in the wilderness, who obviously knew what she was doing after all.

S. Sarah

Advent – a season of surprises

–By Mary Flick, CSJ

candles_largeWe Americans are a people of plans and expectations. In our culture of control, it’s hard to be surprised. That’s why we need Advent each year. Advent is a season of surprises, vying for our attention amid the Christmas rush. This year, we are given a full four weeks to be surprised. Today, we find our readings full of surprises, and hints for our Christmas preparations.

In our first reading, Isaiah bids us twice to come and be surprised. “Come, let us climb the Lord’s mountain,” he invites. We can actually enter the place where God dwells! We can be that close to God. In God’s presence, there is no end to the surprises: “They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.” Instead of war with its instruments of death, there will be farming with its instruments of life. “Come,” Isaiah invites us again, “let us walk in the light of the Lord.” Let us travel these darkest nights of the year in God’s presence.

Light in our darkened world comes slowly, one Advent candle at a time. But there is something we can do. Paul instructs us to get rid of our works of darkness and “put on the armor of light” – put on Jesus Christ. Wear the light we profess.

In the gospel, Jesus images yet another surprise with yet another Advent instruction. Stay awake! God is coming – in a form we might not recognize. As the Son of Man, as one like us. And we must be ready because, like death, God comes among us when we least expect. In the smile of a child. In the kind word of a stranger. In the glance of one of our guests as we leave the hall. Stay awake, Jesus urges us, through the night of our waiting, when doubt is easy and the unknown is a threat more than a promise. Because God is coming among us, dressed as one of us. Stay awake, Jesus tells us a second time. Be prepared for a time you do not expect. Because God is coming, as one of us, to be with us.

Stay awake. Or we’ll miss the greatest surprise of all this Advent season.