The following post appears at “Adding to the Beauty” — as part of the “Tireless Hope” Series for Advent: inviting voices of Midwest writers to join the conversation around beauty as it is documented and posted in the Middle East by travelers Becca and Andrew Ulasich.
“Advent [that is to say, the Incarnation] makes us look for God in all those places we have, until now, ignored.” – Joan Chittister
Fr. Dale Korogi opened a recent homily at the Visitation Sisters’ monastery with a paraphrase of Sr. Joan Chittister’s words:
“It’s safe to say that the Visitation Sisters are an Advent community, inviting us to find God in places we have often ignored; places like Fremont and Girard Avenue in North Minneapolis.”
I’d say the same is true regarding Becca and Andrew Ulasich — Northside community members traveling and volunteering around the world. They are an Advent couple on a mission: inviting us to find God in places we have, until now, perhaps ignored; places like Sari Bari in Kolkata; a Himalayan Mountain boarding-school in Northern India, and Poor Servants of Jesus the Master in Nepal. This Advent, they journey through the Holy Land, tuning into stories of Israelis and Palestinians; holding open their hearts, seeking beauty at every turn.
As I sit to write this post, I consider it a gift to be invited to Add to the Beauty in this Advent Series: Middle East meets Midwest.
Inherent in this invitation to compose a blog, is a similar invitation inherent in the season of Advent — and echoed by Joan Chittister’s words. I ask: How is the incarnation manifesting in places I’ve ignored? What are the dark spaces I sidestep or scurry by in my world? In my own psyche or spirit? What headlines do I prefer to scan over — or news posts do I elect to tune out in my Twitter or Facebook feeds in a conscious or unconscious manner? How can Advent help transform my perspective — my heart, my mind, and way of living and loving?”
The incarnation, God taking on human form, means that I am inextricably woven into the story of Love.
I began writing this blog on Thanksgiving morning. Tucked into a cozy room of my parent’s lakeside home nestled in the wooded landscape along the Lewis and Clark Reservoir along the Missouri Riverbanks that form the border between Nebraska and South Dakota. I recognized my geographical location in an area called “Hideaway Acres” as keenly appropriate; and I wondered, “What is hidden in my own heart that God is asking me to shine a light on?”
The past four weeks leading up to the start of Advent have been chock full of large events that give way for my pause and incarnation contemplations:
–My baby sister got married;
–My husband donated a kidney to his older sister;
–We had an opportunity to embrace new family members from Burkina Faso, West Africa;
–We were embraced by family members who reside in a care facility devoted to their mental health in Northeast Nebraska;
–Two of our best friends were married in a ceremony uniting their Puerto Rican and Polish-American families, after my husband and I introduced them.
The incarnation, God taking on human form, means that I am inextricably woven into the story of Love. At every turn, I have an opportunity to marvel at the mystery of my connection to every other creature on this planet, and to see beauty, goodness, hope. I am given the opportunity to bow down in awe at the workings of our marvelous Creator. The Creator of my and my husband’s siblings and all of our blessed organs. I can stand in awe at the recent immigration narratives of my nieces from Burkina Faso as I marvel the healing journeys of two uncles who battle addiction and mark life as formerly homeless. I am prostrate to Love as it is born out in the marriage of two who never entertained this kind of happy union for themselves.
As we journey together this Advent, what unites us in our contemplations of the incarnation? What ignored spaces of life does God invite each of us to see?