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I flew to the east this past week. I didn’t encounter “weather” the likes of which I hear about in the news, but it was definitely winter where I was. There was no snow or rain, but there were bare trees and gray branches. In my own yard back at home, there were no roses left, no camellias out, not many blooms anywhere.

Furrows, be glad. Though earth is bare, one more seed is planted there. Give up your strength this seed to nourish, that in course the flower may flourish. People, look east: and sing today: Love, the Rose, is on the way (Eleanor Farjeon).

This Advent it has been a challenge to see much besides “bare furrows” in the field–loved ones suffer, old acquaintances square off, tribes stake out exclusive claims, and so many just weep in loneliness, frustration and pain. Yet on this third Sunday of Advent, Gaudete Sunday, the Church offers a rose colored candle to be lighted, both to honor Mary, the mother-to-be, and in an older time, to give respite to the darkness of Advent, by lifting some of the practices of austerity, in hope that there is a “seed” left to nourish. We are asked to give up our strength to support the tiny seed of hope nestled in the ground which seems unforgiving and barren, even when the darkness does not allow us to see what might be about to blossom.

In the twelve days left before Christmas I am turning my attention to the “littles,” the small things that might have a seed to hope in them, that need nourishment from me in order to become what they can be. I am remembering the last days of my own pregnancies, when all the big items had been taken care of–nursery ready, supplies on hand, arrangements made for getting to the hospital. What was left was the waiting and internal preparation. Was I ready to be a mother? what would encourage me, nurture my hope? would there be companions on the way? and was I paying enough attention to positioning myself to access that strength?

This Advent the “littles” I need to which I need to pay attention this year are inner ones primarily.  I have had a long run of attending to “seeds” around me in the wider world, people who have needed care, situations that have needed mending. However, the “seed” in my own heart feels buried and thirsty. So in these last two weeks of Advent I want to give up my strength primarily to that soul work. The sacred text that came to me at the beginning of Advent was this one from James 5:8–Do not lose heart…God is kind and compassionate. But these past weeks I have been moving at warp speed (for me), and I have not slowed down enough to wait with patience to notice the kindness and compassion of the Holy One. Mary was known for pondering things in our heart: I have much to ponder this week. I will do that with silence, with music and reading, with walking the labyrinth–do not lose heart! Mary was known for going to soul friends for protection, comfort and wisdom: I will reach out to beloved ones who keep bearing flames of hope by example and insight–do not lose heart! Mary was willing to receive what the Holy One wanted to give her: I am offering the little seed that is my heart to receive whatever it is that I am being given–do not lose heart, the Holy One comes to you!

Love, the Rose, in on the way–in the little seeds of my life this Advent.