I have been musing for days about an appropriate message that might coinicide with this bustling, busy, beautiful time of year. I’m not embarrassed to admit that I love this time of year, not for the materiality of it all, but for a reawakening in my consciousness about what is truly special. I feel wonderful about the advent season, about what it means for us, but I’m always a little shy about being too effusive with my feelings because I know many people do not share such warmth.
And then, the very message that I wanted to write showed up in my mail, from a partner organization of ours in Nicaragua, the Jubilee House Community. Winds of Peace and JHC have collaborated on a number of projects, including the new spinning plant initiative at Ciudad Sandino, and I regularly receive their newsletter. On the back page was a reflection written by Kathleen of the JHC group, and I reproduce a portion of it here. I can pen no more moving or inspiring words than these:
Advent is a time of waiting and hoping…. We think of the babe in the manger, who was to come to come and bring good news to the poor, and we wait and hope.
The poor wait and hope….sometmes they wait too long and hope becomes despair. Sometimes we despair…when we learn that the gap between the richest countries and the poorest is greater today (50 to 1) than in 1800 (4 to 1)…we despair and the poor do, too. Where is the good news to the poor?
When we hear of the billions and billions of dollars spent to “stop terror” when it could feed the world many times over and end terror…we wonder, where is the good news to the poor?
When we see mega-churches spending millions to broadcast their tirades instead of clothing the naked and visiting the imprisoned, and instead actually calling for more prisons…we pray, where is the good news to the poor?
When we see corporations grabbing more and more power through treaties and therefore ssweatshops to feed their endless appetite for greed…we ask, where is the good news to the poor?
When we look at stores pushing and pushing for people to buy and buy and buy for Christmas, we cry where is the good news to the poor?
Where? Where? Where is the good news to the poor?
Many times it is found in the poor themselves…people like Diana, Vilma and Sulma give hope to others. They believe so strongly that there can be good news they help it happen when given the slightest chance.
Sometimes it is found in the very wealthy…people who give to empower the poor and end the diseases of poverty.
The news is that the founders of religions/philosophies and caring people we as societies admire have told us through the ages to work for justice and to eliminate poverty. The question is…will we be the good news for the poor?
Or rather, WHO will be the good news to the poor? Indeed, we each have a role to play, because in this world of ours we are inextricably connected, and in ways we do not always know. I’m reminded of perhaps the most impactful “religious” movie for me of all time, “Oh, God!” At the end of the film, God (in the interesting guise of George Burns) gives his final advice to the only human who can see or hear him, played by John Denver. And God says something to the effect, “Tell everyone that it can all work. I’ve given you everything you need.”
What we need is each other, and in the playing of each role there can be good news to the poor, to be sure. But there is perhaps even greater import in the learning and the transforming that happens to US. This season I’m buoyed by the thought, as perhaps are the poor, that it can all work and we are the architects….