By Sister Janet M. Peterworth, OSU


When I wrote this reflection, I was looking out the window of my hotel in New York City at the Freedom Tower. It is the one that was built on the same grounds where the Twin Towers stood. It is indeed an awesome structure. I suppose it is a tribute to what we human beings can do with our 21st century engineering and technology. Being in the presence of such a structure fills me with wonder; and among other things, I wonder what this building stands for. I guess for me it says to those who brought the Twin Towers down those many years ago, “You will not keep us down, we will rise up again. We will come out of our own ashes.”

In one way this is a resurrection story, and in another, it is a story of pure showmanship. It is hard to know. So many things in our lives are like this. Never is there only one side. Life is complicated and full of disconnect.

I feel that way about Advent. I think it is perhaps the most underrated season of the liturgical year. It seems that try as we might, Advent with its soft whispers is drowned out by the hustle and bustle of Christmas. Advent with its muted colors of purple and dark blue is overcome by Christmas and its bright colors of red and green. Lent comes in with a bang, with its populist holy day of Ash Wednesday and goes out with a flare of an Easter Vigil. But Advent comes in silently, with an evergreen wreath and a few candles—only to go out with the soft strains of Silent Night. Advent goes by almost unnoticed.

So many things in our lives are like this.

I recently read a book called “Small Great Things.” I love that title.  It is a paraphrase of what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.” Isn’t that just like Advent? It is a small sort of liturgical season that does a great thing for us. It introduces us to “The Word made flesh,” which is Christ among us—God taking on our human condition. That is a hard thing to get our mind around. Fortunately, we have scripture to help us understand, and we have our faith to anchor us in this reality. So many things in our lives are like this.

Both Dr. King’s words and Advent remind me of our human condition. Most of us will spend our lifetime doing small things. Some of us will do those small things in a way that goes unnoticed. Some of us will do these small things in a great way simply because of the sacrifice it costs. A very few of us will do really great things. So, I suppose that means most of us are really Advent people. And I repeat myself…so many things in our lives are like this.