As a little girl in Maine, I was truly confounded by the notion of Christmas among sunshine, shorts, and palm trees. To me, the season was inextricably bound to December’s cold darkness and utterly impossible in places with an endless summer.
Recently I was privileged to be in conversation with the Diocese of the Virgin Islands, a place blessed with warm breezes all year round. As we talked about the ambitious plans for Episcopal schools in the diocese and the daunting work ahead, I was struck by an abiding optimism that permeated the discussions. “Well,” the Reverend Canon Julian Clarke noted with a wise smile, “after all, we are Advent people.”
In that moment, Advent was more alive for me than in the most wintry December day or darkest New England night of my childhood.
School life has a habit of turning school people away from the very powerful hope and promise embodied in Advent, particularly during the mid-year months of December, January, and February. It is easy to lose faith in our students, colleagues, and schools; to become doubters who wonder if what we are doing does or could make a difference; or to turn into cynical or resigned naysayers.
But, like Canon Clarke, we can choose to be “Advent people:” undaunted by difficulty; strengthened by hope; patient yet persistent; and sure in the promise and possibility of a better future, even when it is beyond our human knowing or imagination.
May the spirit of Advent and the promise of Christmas remain alive in all of our hearts and in each of our schools—good days and bad, cold days and warm, January through June.