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Little darlin’ (as the late, great George Harrison might say), it’s been a long, cold, lonely winter. Even if you don’t believe in global warming or climate change (you should; it’s as provable as gravity), you must admit that it’s been a wild wintery ride — so much rain in California, there’s no longer a drought (in fact, some towns have turned into islands), bitter cold and snow throughout the Midwest, tornados down South. Dark days, folks.

It’s a lot like Lent. As we walk with Jesus through these forty days, we walk a path of self-awareness. What is keeping you from being a fulfilled, self-realized child of God? Do you lack something in your life or do you suffer from a surfeit — too much of a certain bad behavior or unhealthy way of thinking? Whatever is out of balance, Lent is the time to take strides toward fixing it.

I’m not going to lie and say it will be easy…in fact, it shouldn’t be. You should expect to struggle. True change doesn’t come easily. But at the end of this winter-of-the-soul, there will be Easter. Spring. Renewal, regrowth, new life. In other words, here comes the sun.

Instead of wishing away winter, let’s hold on to its lessons. Being flesh is hard, scary and lonesome. But as anyone who’s ever snuggled with a warm puppy (or kitten) knows, being flesh is also lovely. Embrace your dark days, but look toward the light. It’s coming, as sure as Springtime.

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The weather is mocking me: After three days of rain, only the most tentative flicker of sunshine. It’s enough to make a person lose hope. And I have lost it, especially of late. I’ve lost hope in the Sisterhood (you know, that wild idea that women might work together for our own good), in men, in the Church, and in the bright, shiny promise of Democracy. I’ve lost hope that somehow we’re going to pull it together before the effects of global warming smack us in the face with a cataclysmic shout of “too late!”

But it’s okay. Because at the bottom of my Pandora’s box remains one thing — faith in God. And because of this, I can’t lose hope entirely. I have to still believe in the Sisterhood, in men, in the Church, in the bright, shiny promise of Democracy. I even have to believe that maybe we’ll save the planet before it’s too late. But only because I believe in God.

I don’t have to believe that human beings are capable of being fair or loving or vigilant, because God demonstrates over and over that God can work a miracle through the unlikeliest of people. Most saints are saints despite themselves. They are saints because God worked through them. And God can work through any of us.

So while I might be experiencing a dark night of the soul, there’s still some sunlight left in my inventory. And that is the idea of God’s infinite possibility. If you can believe in that, you can never lose hope. Good thing, too, because a life without hope is no life at all.

Pope Francis spoke out this week in support of Dreamers and in opposition to climate change deniers. (And before you say, “Who asked him, anyway?” let me tell you — journalists.) I am proud of my Church’s Papa, proud that he puts love and justice and mercy above other considerations. He is walking with Christ on these issues, welcoming the stranger and being a caretaker of God’s bountiful gifts to us.

In other news, Steve Bannon railed at the Catholic Church for its support of illegal immigrants, saying the Church needs them to “fill the pews.”

Oh really?

Immigrants to this country bring with them their faith. My own great-grandfather helped build the first Catholic church in South Dakota, knowing full well there weren’t any priests in the area, but believing nonetheless that one would come. Mr. Bannon’s ancestors, who arrived with the tide of Irish fleeing the potato famine (and who, by the way, never had official papers of any sort, who were reviled by so-called “natives” and blamed for lack of employment, among other things) brought theirs. Somewhere along the way, Bannon lost the thread of the narrative, which has always been love. A Christian who is without love is no Christian at all. The fact that his own predecessors were the Latin Americans of their day seems to evade him entirely. If you are glad that this great country embraced your own ancestors, how can you deny that embrace to someone — anyone — else? Who are you to say “too many”?

But back to Dreamers. And walls. Specifically, walls that the Mexican government will never, ever pay for, not now, not ever, never. The recipients of DACA are not criminals. They never have been. And they contribute significantly to our GNP. If we lose them, we lose money — lots of it. Surely, that’s an argument even the most hard-hearted can understand? How does America become “great again” by cutting off its nose to spite its face? And then building a wall around it to point out its stupidity in the most glaring of ways?

Love, mercy, justice. Anyone who claims ownership to faith in Christ must claim ownership to these qualities in their everyday, working lives. Day in, day out. Even politicians. And, yes, even “street fighters.”

“Man, I just wish she would stop doing that.”

“Why can’t it be like X instead of Y?”

“Why doesn’t someone do something about this?”

We’ve all said things like this whether we were talking about DACA, global warming, social justice, or the items on your kid’s school supply list.  We say these things looking outward.  Why?  Because it is a whole lot easier than looking where change needs to start.

Whether it is an attitude or behavior, something personal or societal, change begins with you.  God will give you the tools you need.  The first one may very well be the awareness that something needs to change.

–SueBE

Have a Mary Little Christmas

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