There is a child in each of us waiting to be born again. It is to those looking for life that the figure of the Christ, a child, beckons. Christmas is not for children. It is for those who refuse to give up and grow old, for those to whom life comes newly and with purpose each and every day, for those who can let yesterday go so that life can be full of new possibility always, for those who are agitated with newness whatever their age. Life is for the living, for those in whom Christmas is a feast without finish, a celebration of the constancy of change, a call to begin once more the journey to human joy and holy meaning.

Let the soldiers stomp through life. Let the cold winds blow. Let the birth points of all our lives be drowned in obscurity. Let the days seem mundane and fruitless. The crib in Bethlehem justifies them all. Jesus has been here before us. Bring on the days of our lives. We have a God who has already walked them and found them holy making.

–from In Search of Belief by Joan Chittister (Liguori) 
For the senseless violence and tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut

God, let me cry on Your shoulder. 
Rock me like a colicky baby. 
Promise me You won't forget

each of Your perfect reflections
killed today. Promise me 
You won't let me forget, either.

I'm hollow, stricken like a bell. 
Make of my emptiness a channel 
for Your boundless compassion.

Soothe the children who witnessed 
things no child should see, 
the teachers who tried to protect them

but couldn't, the parents 
who are torn apart with grief,
who will never kiss their beloveds again.

Strengthen the hands and hearts 
of Your servants tasked with caring 
for those wounded in body and spirit.

Help us to find meaning 
in the tiny lights we kindle tonight. 
Help us to trust

that our reserves of hope 
and healing are enough 
to carry us through.

We are Your hands: put us to work. 
Ignite in us the unquenchable yearning
to reshape our world

so that violence against children 
never happens again, anywhere. 
We are Your grieving heart.

---Rabbi Rachel Barenblat

Advent begins on Dec. 2.

Prepare for Christmas with
Joan Chittister’s latest eBook: 

Life is for Living.Advent is one of the most difficult periods of the church’s liturgical cycle and all of the life questions the scriptures bring. Why? Because Advent is all about waiting. And waiting is not easy.

As life goes on, the liturgical cycles seem to become more and more meaningful to me. Perhaps after you’ve done enough living you come to understand that every life waits, suffers, comes to new life and rejoices in the ordinary. Advent is especially meaningful because it teaches me to wait without complacency, to wait without compliance.

There is so much to wait for now in life: human development, love, peace in the church and in the world. And most of us do not wait well for what we want or what we are meant to be. We get impatient or we get depressed. We question or we doubt. We argue or we get alienated.

And now, we all wait, not for the coming of Christ—God took care of that—but for the coming of the Gospel, which we are delaying in the name of God.

Waiting is a call to conscience. Waiting leads us to compare what is probable with what is possible—unless we ourselves do something about it. Waiting engages all of us in the struggle, for or against, until there can be no disinterested bystanders, no free rides, no unconscious commitment to the unconscionable.

While we wait we can learn and grow and become stronger than ever in our convictions. We can be conscientious and creative. And no matter who wants to suppress us or to silence us, we can be signs of hope that never, never go away until, someday, the star finally shines.

–from Life Is for Living by Joan Chittister.