Advent: Let's Attend to the Children

Suzanne Cooke, RSCJ
Advent comes alive for me when I spend time with children. Just look into the face of any child during these weeks of waiting for Christmas and what do you see? A sense of wonder, a sense of expectancy, a sense of excitement, and a sense of confident joy. Considering all that a child’s eyes communicates, we can see the veracity of the saying, “Our eyes are the windows into our souls.” What about the children struggling with poverty, homelessness, being on the move across borders? As their faces cross our screens daily, what do we see in their eyes? Politics aside, the death of Jakelin Caal, the seven-year-old who died at our border, disturbs and challenges all of us. Were her dreams, aspirations and sources of joy less important than those of a child whom we personally know and love? I don’t have answers, only more questions.
I have been re-reading Lisa Miller’s book, The Spiritual Child. Anyone who has read her work knows that Dr. Miller believes that that children summon those who accompany them, specifically parents and educators, forward into a sacred journey. She speaks about this journey in an interview with Robin Young. Dr. Miller defines spirituality as:

An inner sense of relationship to a higher power that is loving and guiding.
The word we give to this higher power might be God, nature, spirit, the universe, the creator,
or other words that represent a divine presence. But the important point is that spirituality
encompasses our relationship and dialogue with this higher presence.
Advent is the very time during which we are given the gift of time and space to engage in this dialogue. The children in our lives both those whom we love and whom we encounter in media, beckon us inwards to our very core where this dialogue occurs. “Let’s go in…” so that we too might experience the confident joy that our God offers. This invitation is the essence of Advent.
In the Spiritual Child, Dr. Miller references a line from the Sabbath Prayer. I offer the prayer in its entirety:
Days pass and the years vanish, and we walk sightless among miracles.
Lord, fill our eyes with seeing and our minds with knowing.
Let there be moments when your Presence, like lightning,
illumines the darkness in which we walk.
Help us to see, wherever we gaze, that the bush burns, unconsumed.
And we, clay touched by God, will reach out for holiness and exclaim in wonder,
“How filled with awe is this place and we did not know it.”
- Sabbath Prayer

Editors note: If you’re interested in learning more about Dr. Miller’s research, she spoke to the Network of Sacred Heart Trustees in the Fall of October 2016. You can watch a video of her presentation by clicking here.
Schools of the Sacred Heart share in the educational mission of the Society of the Sacred Heart as articulated in the Goals and Criteria. The structure supporting Sacred Heart education in Canada and the United States includes the Conference of Sacred Heart Education and the Network of Sacred Heart Schools.  Together they provide services and programs to ensure vitality of mission for the member schools sponsored by the Society of the Sacred Heart.