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Season’s Grievings

7 Dec

My 3 month old son Peter died on the Feast of Christ the King, 2006. That year, it was the Sunday following Thanksgiving. As we buried him right before the start of Advent that year, many people commented to us on how the impending holidays must have compounded our grief. I won’t pretend that it was fun to pass by the “baby’s first Christmas” sleepers, or to see TV commercials where rosy-faced children are snuggling up to the hearth with homemade sugar cookies and cocoa. Our secular culture has labeled December “the most wonderful time of the year.” Needless to say, grieving the sudden death of a baby is in stark contrast to these images and can make grief seem a little fresher.

All that being said, that year I entered into Advent in a deeper and richer way than I think I ever had before. For four Sundays, we could leave the jingle bells of the outside world and enter into a sanctuary where all was quiet, and expectant, and still. Our souls were mirrored in the hauntingly beautiful liturgies. We heard Isaiah speak of the longing of God’s people to be brought back from the land of exile. We heard them pour out their sufferings and their fears. And God’s reply? I have not forgotten you. A day is coming when every tear will be wiped away, when “no longer will there be an infant who lives but a few days” (Isaiah 65:19-20).

Advent is a time of waiting, a time of penance, which I think is uniquely suited for those who suffer. Continue reading