Bright flows the river of God

    December 14, 2023
    Advent reflection day 12 graphic. Watercolor brush strokes of Christmas tree branches in white and pale green.

    It’s the second week of Advent and the days feel like they are moving beyond my grasp. Cards are mailed out, presents bought and wrapped, decorations are up and in the right place…but something feels off this Advent season.

    I don’t know that I remember the dark being so dark in previous Advents. It feels more imposing than prior years, stark, and overbearing. Or is it overwhelming? In the words of Scott Cooper of Catholic Charities of Eastern Washington, “Both can be true.”

    Every year I seem to have the same resolve and desire: to read my specially-procured Advent books, sit in the glow of twinkle lights and soft candles, read from scripture and relish the celebration of our Incarnate Lord, Jesus Christ. This should not be hard.

    Instead, this year, I have found myself spending time in cars, waiting rooms, lines at the post office and trying to answer emails in a timely fashion. Basically, doing everything but remembering to slow down, to pause, to find peace in the fray, to move with a pace of deliberate calm.

    Today is the feast of the great Spanish mystic, poet, and reformer, St. John of the Cross. I recall his words, “In the dark night of the soul, bright flows the river of God.” The readings today remind me of hope, consolation and promise, all things to hold onto and cherish in tough moments of Advent.

    Genevieve Mougey is Executive Director of Catholic Charities Wyoming.

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