Thanksgiving, a holiday of family gatherings, eating around tables filled with sumptuous food, giving thanks. Like all holidays, we expect the day to resemble a Norman Rockwell scene of happiness and family unity, and our expectations usually fail to deliver. My experiences of many holidays over the years have been wonderful and joyful, but never Norman Rockwell !!!
Traditions, like life, need to change, allowing new people and new experiences to to reshape the celebration. Nothing, if it is to be life giving, can remain static and frozen in time.
My Thanksgiving has changed significantly since my mom and many others have passed away. So many of the people I spent Thanksgiving with for so many years are now gone but continue to celebrate in spirit. When I got home from the dinner , which took place in a nursing home, I could have been sad or depressed, but I chose NOT to react in a negative way. I simply ACCEPTED that things are different now and new ways of living the holidays are emerging. How much life is easier and happier when we accept change and allow new life to find expression.
As old worlds die…new worlds want to be born. As we prepare to begin Advent, we are reminded that the world as we know it, is slowly passing away and a new world is already taking shape. This “new world” is the one jesus preached about in his parables , but more importantly, lived on his day to day life. This new world is the Kingdom, the foundation of which is the Love of Christ, whose arms embraced all of humanity on the Cross, in every time and place…past, present and future. The old world of brokenness and alienation died on the Cross and a New World was born.
I got a glimpse of this New World in a very unlikely and untraditional place: a nursing home!! Yes, as so many of the people are preparing to leave the earthly tables of turkey delights, those of us who are the visitors must accompany them and then let go when the time comes. And then we must carry on, creating new expressions of beautiful holidays. The feast I celebrated with my very small family was indeed a feast that was peaceful and happy. Different….yes, but perhaps more meaningful. I was experiencing the birth of this New World imbued with Advent hope.
The patient waiting that characterizes Advent always leads to a Birth…
Burn camino. Padre.