First Sunday in Advent: Hope 2023

 Advent is here and so I am ready to don my purple today.  (Purple is the color of advent in my book.  It can also be blue, but I'm more of a purple person, so I'm entering the season wearing it).  The first Sunday in advent heralds the theme of Hope.  Something that we all need in my book.  So today I am really thinking about Hope.

Although, I'm not just thinking of it as an abstract; I'm also thinking of a person, a good friend, whose name just happens to be Hope.  Hope and I became friends many years ago (too many to number) when we met in college.  Our friendship has held fast over the years and perhaps has grown stronger over the past several years as she (as well as her sister) and I have had to deal with the issue of aging parents.    She has been a sounding board for me and a calm voice when I needed it.  Though the name Hope fits here incredibly well, she might also have been named Grace because she has ALWAYS exuded that quality as far as I can see.  She has provided me with grace and compassion whenever I have needed it.  To be fair, Grace might also have been what her sister could have been called; although to me her sister's name might have been Ophelia.  I'm NOT referencing "Hamlet" here.  As I found out Ophelia comes from the Greek meaning help or aid, and Hope's sister was that for me as our family (my son) navigated the college process.  Both Hope and her sister are strong, resourceful women.

I think of them today as I have just learned that their father has passed away.  So we all share something else in common; we both have lost our parents in just a few short years.  And for all of us it has not been an easy process.  (I know...when WOULD it be easy?  The answer is never.)

As we enter this New Year in the Christian calendar, my hope for Hope and her sister is that they will be able to find hope, peace, joy and love during the next few weeks.  I know all too well how awkward a special time of year can become when grief hangs over us.  However, with that grief may the words of Isaiah comfort them:  "The people walking in darkness have seen a great light:  one those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned."  

While that might not seem apropos for the situation; I feel it might.  Both Hope and her sister (as well as myself) have dealt with the darkness of illness in aging parents.  It is a darkness that can drag everyone down in time of pain, confusion and frustration.  As heartbreaking as the death of a parent is, there is also light and the ability to refresh ourselves in the memories that we will forever hold onto. While letting go of the difficulties that have plagued us.  To be grateful and perhaps even rejoice in what we had been given and to let go of the sorrow of what has been taken away.

I hope that that both of my dear friends will be able to find time for themselves and be embraced by the love that I know surrounds them in the form of friends and family.  I hope that in the chaos of the next several weeks (and even beyond) that they will find blessed moments of peace.  And I hope that even in the midst of grief that there will be joy as well.

My wish (my hope?) for them is that during this time of sorrow AND this time of holiday preparation, may there be hope, peace, joy and love.


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