Advent is a wonderful season of promise and of hope. It’s a time to get in touch with our inner-most longings. What we truly look forward to in our future and in our life. Hopefully, we are not just longing for material things or some other selfish desires, but for a deeper sense of peace, of comfort, of fulfillment. Knowing that we are on a journey with God who is there with us and who is walking beside us. For this to happen, however, means we must also look carefully at and be in touch with our darkness inside. Those places where we feel dejected, discouraged, struggle with faith, and have experienced disappointment. It is by opening those wounds, those thoughts, those parts of ourselves (which feel like the long winter nights) that we can become more open to a Savior who comes to speak words of peace and comfort to us.
I encourage you then to take some quiet time, a moment of solitude to enter into the very mystery of yourself and of a God who loves us. Set aside that iPhone, turn off that TV, put away that book and just have a private conversation with our Lord. Tell God of your true desires. Then, listen. Who knows? That voice may come alive in us! Jesus brings with him great hope, especially in the simple and humble of heart.
In the words of Pope Francis, “Do not be men and women of sadness: a Christian can never be sad. Never give way to discouragement! Ours is not a joy of having many possessions, but from having encountered a person: Jesus in our midst. It is born from knowing that with him, we are never alone…This is our joy, this is the hope we must bring to this world” (Pope Francis.)
I think there is a big difference between ‘loneliness’ and ‘solitude.’ Loneliness is born out of hopelessness whereas solitude comes from a sense of hope. A feeling that we are with God and are in solidarity with all humankind as well. Sharing one great desire for our world. May God bless us all, then, as we embrace our darkness and our hope this Advent Season and as we travel together through these long, winter nights!