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A reflection for Advent: A time of both joy and sorrow

Advent is not only a period of joy. It is also a time when those who are lonely feel lonelier than during other periods of the year.

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The period before Christmas has that remarkable quality of joy that seems to touch not only Christians but all who live in our society. . . .But Advent is not only a period of joy. It is also a time when those who are lonely feel lonelier than during other periods of the year. During this time many people try to commit suicide or are hospitalized with severe depression. Those who have hope feel much joy and desire to give. Those who have no hope feel more depressed than ever and are often thrown back on their lonely selves in despair.

Surrounded by a loving, supportive community, Advent and Christmas seem pure joy. But let me not forget my lonely moments because it does not take much to make that loneliness reappear. If I am able to remember loneliness during joy, I might be able in the future to remember joy during loneliness and so be stronger to face it and help others face it. . . .

When Jesus was loneliest, he gave most. That realization should help to deepen my commitment to service and let my desire to give become independent of my actual experience of joy.

Henri J. M. Nouwen, The Genesee Diary: Report from a Trappist Monastery (Doubleday)

Reflection questions:

1. For many people, even those who, for the most part, are content and joyful, Advent brings up tough feelings of sadness and loneliness. Is this true for you? What are the moments in Advent when you find yourself missing a loved one or feeling alone?

2. What can you take away from Christ’s experience of loneliness and loss? How does that help you get through your own tough times?

Published: 
Thursday, December 8, 2016