Week 2: Preparation
Thank you for taking the time to sit with our annual Advent Devotionals. As we move into a busy month of exams and holiday preparation, we invite you to sit with the words of members of the TCU community. Today’s piece comes from Kurk Gayle, Director of the TCU Intensive English Program and friend of many, especially international students.
Words to ponder
Mary said to the angel, “How can this be?” …
…And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
Luke 1, 2
Stuff of humanity
I often have questions this time of year. Especially when unexpected and hard things happen, how can I prepare for things to be made better?
By December last year, four dear friends and two of my family members had passed away. Cancer, a car wreck, suicide, and a stroke-two-days-before-Christmas were the causes of death. And now this year-end, some of my relationships with others have been strained, all year long.
Am I naïve to hope for good? For change? For what’s really needed? What’s really needed anyway?
Fortunately hints of answers come from the research and practice of the late Karyn Purvis, psychologist. She worked with traumatized “children from hard places.” Dr. Purvis insisted on finding what “meets the deepest needs of every child and a human of any age.” She observed, “We all have the same needs.” Then she elaborated: “We need to know that we’re precious. We need to know that we’re loved. We need to know how to get our needs met appropriately. We need to know how to find safe people. We need to know that we have a voice. We need to know that our life and that our pain and that our fears and that our wants matter. This is the stuff of humanity.”
Thankfully the Christmas story delves deeply into this human stuff. If it gives answers, then it does so by facing and by highlighting our shared needs, especially when surprising and tough things happen. That encourages me. It compels me not to feel alone. I can learn how to find safe people for my questions, can’t I? Who are some people grieving and also continuing, in healthy ways, to cherish their lost loved ones? Who has figured out how to relax the strain in relationships between precious individuals? Who has given birth to miracles in hard places and at unexpected moments? Maybe they can teach and prepare me, this time this year. Aren’t these some of the lessons of that story for this very season?
Let us pray
God, This Advent let us anticipate your good in our hard places, as Mary did, listening to the angel and recounting: “God my savior… has lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things.”