Stories of this Canadian girl's adventures exploring Europe...join me!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

advent and a vending machine - part I

The single candle flickered in its red plastic holder. I lit a second one and handed great guy his lighter, as I bent down to place this one next to the first. He lit his and knelt down, opened the heavy metal door of the large permanent candleholder, placed the candle inside and clicked the door back into place. He stood up and stuffed his hands into the pockets of his brown cord jacket as I slipped my hand underneath his arm. We stood silently gazing at the three dancing lights; Margot, Karin, Danielle. The cool wind touched our faces as a mother brushing a hair from her child’s cheek; the evening light fading, quiet except for the wind gently pushing leaves to the ground or a bird. Totensonntag. Waldfriedhof.


There are stars whose radiance is visible on earth though they have long been extinct. There are people whose brilliance continues to light the world though they are no longer among the living. These lights are particularly bright when the night is dark. -Hannah Seresh


In the days that followed that Sunday of remembrance; thinking of those on the other side of life, and leading up to the first advent Sunday, my mother was not far from my mind.

My relationship with her was filled with disappointment; full of yearning and hope on my side and full of, what I can only guess were the effects of envy and insecurity from her side. I have spent many darker moments trying to reconcile words said into opportunities for growth or learning, or just understanding. Still not sure how I’m doing with that. It is a difficult process turning off the radio of hurtful things once heard by a meaningful person; words much harder to forget than actions. But in the end, for our relationship has come to an end, I do know that forgiveness is the only helpful path.

Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless…… We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty. …..There is a terrible hunger for love. We all experience that in our lives--the pain, the loneliness. We must have the courage to recognize it. The poor you may have right in your own family. Find them. Love them. -Mother Teresa


As much as I wish and long for a visit from the ghost of Christmas past, I do know that this longing I have needs to be redirected in order that the past doesn’t just repeat itself.

Forgiving does not erase the bitter past. A healed memory is not a deleted memory. Instead, forgiving what we cannot forget creates a new way to remember. We change the memory of our past into a hope for our future. -Lewis B. Smedes

In advent we have the opportunity to change; to take a moment to recognize hope, to look forward, morphing memories into hopeful action. And yet, that doesn’t necessarily bring me comfort. We must be today, not just focusing on the light that is coming around the corner. For, is that not just an excuse for inaction? We must reconcile our past, their past, our collective pasts; throw kindness around like confetti to all who are around us…and those far away; and be active like bees. We shouldn’t be complacent in our relationships with family, friends, partners, neighbours (and the one nearest to me guilty of that is yours truly). We don’t know how much sand is left running through our hour glass; there is no better time. So as I write, my advent wish for you is to enjoy each other. Have fun. Love.

….An act of love that fails is just as much a part of the divine life as an act of love that succeeds, for love is measured by its own fullness, not by its reception. -Harold Loukes


And if all else fails, walk under the wrought iron words that grace the entrance to every German cemetery, “What you are now, we were; what we are now, you will become”; the little ditty often filling me with a cold dread. And after putting your tweuro (the EU equivalent to the twoonie) into the candle vending machine, light the small wick and spend a few moments watching a dancing light, smiling good thoughts of someone you once knew and who you still love; regardless of disappointment or satisfaction, words said or unsaid, good or bad. Forgive. This is advent.

The quality of mercy is not strain’d; It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath. It is twice blest: it blesseth him that gives and him that takes. -William Shakespeare; Merchant of Venice


The Christ Rose in front of our door, which bloomed on Friday.

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