I have to confess: I am a real fan of Advent.
I love everything about it. The colours. The joy. The themes of darkness and light…which, admittedly, probably don’t work so effectively in the Southern Hemisphere! The Advent calendars. The themes of waiting, of longing, of hope, of God’s promise. All of these things speak very closely and deeply to my heart.
This year, as Advent began, I took some time to stop and recognise what deep desire was stirring in my heart. I am a person who tends to think about things like goals and dreams and hopes, but I wanted in that time to allow my spirit, rather than my head, to be moved.
And then, almost out of nowhere, something came: I desire to be little.
The more I thought about it, the more it felt true for me. I want to be little.
I want to be little, like the small, defenceless baby born in Bethlehem.
I want to be little, like the young Mary, most likely overwhelmed by the joy and emotion of new life and of parenthood.
I want to be little, like the strong Joseph who, although a lot happened around him that he didn’t foresee and perhaps didn’t understand, still trusted in God and in his family.
The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph is a little family. They are little because they lived simple, humble and joyful lives. They allowed themselves to blend into the background and to be obscure, because in doing so they made room for the goodness, power and glory of God to shine.
I wonder now what this littleness means for me, not just as a young woman but as a Sister of the Holy Family of Nazareth. There are a lot of “big attractions” in our world. Even though I have made vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, I still find myself affected by the world’s pull to be rich, exclusive and independent. I see a significant part of being little lies in acknowledging that I will make mistakes and I will fail in my commitments, and in trusting that God is always greater than my mistakes and uses my weaknesses for something good.
The simplicity, humility and joy of Jesus, Mary and Joseph is what draws me to them. It is what drew me to my sisters and what made me feel welcomed and accepted by them. I hope that if I cultivate these little qualities in me, I will perhaps make someone else feel loved as I feel loved. I know that becoming little will take much longer than four weeks, but I know that Advent – this beautiful time of waiting and yearning – is the best time to start.
My prayer during Advent is that you will also be able to recognise the deepest call of your heart.
Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus!
Sr Sophie Boffa