Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Holy Night: Even in the Cold and Dark, God's Grace Is Present

Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Holy Night: Even in the Cold and Dark, God's Grace Is Present

Article excerpt

Advent is the darkest time of the year. The darkness of December stretches from before dinner one day to after breakfast the next and, in my family, lunch is the only meal we eat in the light of day. It is in this darkness that we prepare for Christ's arrival. Mary and Joseph stepped into the darkness of the unknown when they learned Mary was with child. Their journey of embracing that which they did not understand is instructive. Some of the most significant moments of our lives emerge only after we have walked toward them in the darkness of the unknown. Often when faced with uncertainty in our lives, we respond not by embracing the questions and letting our eyes and souls adjust to the darkness but instead with a frenetic search to turn on an artificial light. Advent offers us the opportunity to be at peace with the darkness and the unknown.

You will be seen

After misbehaving, young children sometimes stay where they are and cover their eyes, believing that if they can't see their parents, maybe their parents won't be able to see them. As adults, sometimes we revert to this childish behavior. In moments of darkness, we think that perhaps we will not be seen by those who could assist us. The opposite is true. It is often when we are most uncertain and confused that others can see us clearly--we are not alone in the dark; we just can't see who is coming to help.

When Maurita and Mike traveled to Ecuador to adopt their two daughters, Maurita was fearful of the requirement to remain in the country for four to six weeks. "I couldn't imagine how I would get through that length of time in a country we had no knowledge of, with only one of us able to speak the language (barely), and away from our family, our home, our friends, our support system," Maurita says. "I looked for every way I could find to get out of it, to shorten the stay; anything to relieve the fear of the unknown. I prayed like crazy to find a way to get our girls, but have the cup of the time requirement pass me by. I felt my prayers were totally unheard and that we were on our own."

What Maurita and Mike found upon their arrival in Ecuador, however, was that God's presence made its way through the fear.

"I don't have enough ways to express the grace of God throughout that experience," Maurita says. "The intense kindness of the people in Ecuador: cab drivers, shopkeepers, hotel staff, the nuns at the orphanage, and the lady selling candy and gum and corn to feed the pigeons. The physical beauty of our surroundings, the majesty of the Andes."

When Maurita and Mike met the girls who would become their daughters, they dispelled any remaining bits of fear. "Our two little girls were--and are--the personification of God's goodness and light," Maurita says. "As we were leaving to fly back to the United States, an elderly man called out to me from across the room at the small airport, Waya con Dios.' Go with God. And we did. It turns out we went with God every step of the way. I learned that sometimes, you just have to go with the fear. The faith becomes so clearly visible after the fact."

When Maurita and Mike met the girls who would become their daughters, they dispelled any remaining bits of fear. "Our two little girls were--and are--the personification of God's goodness and light," Maurita says. "As we were leaving to fly back to the United States, an elderly man called out to me from across the room at the small airport, Waya con Dios.' Go with God. And we did. It turns out we went with God every step of the way. …

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