It is three weeks into the month of December and across much of the continental United States it feels like winter has arrived in full. The solstice – the official turn of the season – was yesterday: the end and the beginning. Those of a Christian faith continue to wait in hopeful expectation for the promise of light to arrive on Christmas as another season of advent progresses. The sun continues to rise and set in an ancient rhythm. Undertones of anger and injustice remain alive and well in too many places. Living creatures die at the hands of other living creatures, for reasons that are as wide ranging as the stars even as they mirror patterns that have repeated for generations. Traffic moves across the globe, we continue to consume, and our footprints seem to go deeper by the day. Yet I hold onto expectations and hope that something better will reveal itself in a way that can be recognized.
Professor Debra Dean Murphy writes,
“Waiting” works if you live in a world where you know that a little more patience generally would do you good. “Hopeful expectation” has a pleasant enough sound if your life is going reasonably well at the moment.
What does “hopeful expectation” sound like, look like in places where justice has long been delayed, meaning, of course, that justice has been denied?
Hope is not wishful thinking; it is risk and action and the courage to undertake both.
But …… it is also vulnerability and a willingness to walk alongside those whose hopes have been crushed.
How can we look at our expectations in the midst of crushed hopes and see that there is still, somehow, a sacred energy in our individual waiting, in our lonely anticipation, and in the unknowns that pepper our psyche? How can we honor those whose hope is buried under the rubble of someone else’s choices? How can we accept without giving in to the status quo? How can we listen in a way that reminds us of what is possible? I can’t claim to know the answers to these questions. I don’t know that anyone can.
And meanwhile, the hours, the minutes, and the days continue to tick by. It’s business as usual.
Or maybe it’s not.
In every moment of each hour, in every day of every year – with each breath in every passing second – we have the power to see that our inner energy is itself sacred. We can let it flood outward into the earth and all of humanity and creation. We can choose to notice this sacredness that surrounds everything, and we can let it inform the way that we live out our days. We can let it be the guide and the hope when it feels like there is nothing else to look toward. We can let it teach us to respond instead of letting ourselves react to the injustice, the hurt, the anger and the oppression that permeates our world.
May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!’”
We can stay awake. It isn’t easy, but we can keep trying to watch and be present to what’s going on. We can be sacred, and we can know that our expectations are truth, though that truth might look different than we anticipated. It might be harder than we thought to stay awake. We can listen and let the ancient become new again, just like the sun that rises and sets. We can step outside the illusions of our time to be in what we know is real. And we can stand in solidarity with those who are experiencing hardship and keep our eyes open to what we are being called to do in the world.
Every breath is a sacrament, an affirmation of our connection with all other living things, a renewal of our link with our ancestors and a contribution to generations yet to come. Our breath is a part of life’s breath, the ocean of air that envelopes the earth.
― David Suzuki