It is that time of year…..the radio is ready for a continuous loop of 15 usually not very good holiday “classics” and the shops are filling up with bows and ribbons. And never mind that the deciduous trees have shed their plume; a 55 foot Colorado spruce is being brought to Daley Plaza, the Walnut Room has already lit its great evergreen, little conifers have popped up in all the shops and the Museum of Science and Industry is five days away from turning its main space into an international forests of firs and ornaments. In two weeks Michigan Avenue will be ablaze with a million white lights and decorations are will be up in Lincoln Square and Andersonville. Christmas is coming and we can hardly wait.
Whether it is about the anticipation of the holidays or anything else, this should actually be a time of year when waiting is a peculiar thing. This is after all fulfillment time. The saints have marched in and a king who will “tear the tyrants from their thrones” is to be crowned. It is time to bless the harvest and sate ourselves on good things. It is a time to celebrate the thanksgiving table of family and friends and the coming day when all who believe will eat at the same table. We should be raising the banner of harvest home and celebrating the end of all types of hunger, but instead we look forward beyond fulfillment and toward anticipation. It is little wonder….
We turn on the news and the world is filled with terror and hunger is real. Who can blame anyone for forgetting we are promised to be filled with good things? We want to believe in that world, but it is too good to be true. We don’t eat together, we do not watch over our neighbor, the tyrants still rage, and wealth crushes those who live without. We may give the idea of plenty one day on our calendar, but even then we now have the option to rush out and shop forgetting what that means. I too struggle with what it means. I still hunger and see the injustices of the world and think I am too small.
I reflect on this time of year and think if there could be a word to describe it or at least what it should be about…..a world of plenty and the day with a feast that has no end.
I think the word is “belong.” It works on a couple of levels. In our earthly world, it asks us to reflect on the bonds of kinship and community. It is actually a hard thing for me to think on for the psychology of the matter is the most profound thing in our humanity and its absence is a thing of great pain. If I can provide any small correction to the state of the world, it would be to find a lonely person on the day of thanksgiving and show them belonging.
Belonging also works on a greater level. Ultimately we all belong to God and it is the time of year we should reflect on this before conveniently rushing over Advent and into Christmas. This too can be a challenge for if we find it difficult to hold fast to and love those we can see, how much more difficult it must be to do this for God whom we cannot see save in the faces of those we refuse to. Christ may be the king of heaven, but his kinship is first had on earth and it is had in us….to echo St. Theresa…..in this world we are his hands and feet. If we belong to Him then we must use our hands and feet to do great things and travel to tell others they too are His and that they belong.
Very soon the anticipation. The city will grow cold, but beautiful and kindness will fall like the snow. But before our rooms smell of pine and the lines at Target grow unbearably long, we must think first of the world He desires us to have and know it our place to work for the day when no more work need be done when we will be filled with good things and all people will belong.
Image: Edward Hicks, The Peaceable Kingdom