Advent is a time of hope: a season in which those of us still in darkness await the coming of the light. But it is more than a passive waiting. It is a time during which we prepare our hearts to receive the light — to see it, to not miss it.
Certainly a “time of darkness” aptly describes 2020. The isolation has dragged on, we’ve grown weary of restrictions, we want to gather with our entire families, however large and noisy. And yet, even in these dark days, so many lights have appeared to warm our hearts and illumine our paths. Let’s not miss them.
At Catholic Charities of Louisville, we’ve worked diligently to be light to those we serve. Sometimes that light has been like the sun, washing over a community, and often it has been a pinpoint chasing away the shadows from one person or family. All light — any light — shines brightly in real darkness.
When the shutdown forced us to retreat to our homes, some among us were left completely alone. That was the case for one woman who had recently exited human trafficking and was receiving services from our Bakhita Empowerment Initiative (BEI). Worried about the burden of loneliness and how it might diminish this survivor, BEI staff called her at the same time every day to make sure she was okay, to keep her connected. To be her light.
Consider, too, the refugee families trying to make sense of hot spots, Chromebooks, and the strange new world of non-traditional instruction (NTI) — a landscape that is infinitely challenging even for those of us who don’t face language and cultural barriers. Staff from our Migration and Refugee Services personally delivered laptops, set up hotspots, and taught families how to connect to school remotely. We’re continuing that work today, holding the light high for young people and educators to keep at-risk English-Language Learner students from falling further behind.
Perhaps no one has experienced the darkness of loneliness this year like those in long-term care facilities. Studies are reporting that elderly people who were rich in spirit and vitality are giving up because they are profoundly lonely. Many have gone months now without having a hug from a family member, or visiting only through closed windows and video screens. Our Long-Term Care Ombudsman team has worked with families and residents to understand the ever-changing restrictions and to increase visits wherever possible. Because of our team’s advocacy, one woman was able to be with her mom just days before her death. Another man has been able to see his medically fragile grandson at Home of the Innocents. Even amid great darkness, these small lights shine.
When Isaiah prophesied the coming of Christ, he wrote, “The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light.” We’ve sat in plenty of darkness this year, and we are eager for the coming of the Light. In this season of anticipation, I wish you all the blessings of Christmas and lighter, brighter days ahead.
Lisa DeJaco Crutcher is the chief executive officer of Catholic Charities of Louisville.