Holding On

It’s Advent season again–the time of waiting and longing for change. Here in Delhi, winter is the season of smoke–smoke from wood fires, and burning garbage as the millions living below the poverty line on the streets here in Delhi light what they can find in an effort to keep warm. Winds are rare here in the winter. Smoke arrives and settles in to the chinks and crannies of every room. There is no escaping, and I’m reminded once again of how interconnected our lives are with those around us.

What does it mean to wait what you know you can’t change, to hold on for the arrival of what is a long way off? How do people continue to persevere over extended periods of time for many years? This week I found out about the beautiful and powerful story of Augustin, a man debilitated by polio from Honduras portrayed in this short film, Everything is Incredible, who has spent his life building a helicopter. It is his dream, and bit by bit he builds it using scrap metal. The helicopter is heavy, not made with  knowledge of aerodynamics. If it flies, it will be a miracle. Why does Augustin keep working on it; why doesn’t he give up? Perhaps you have known people in your life who have persisted in bad habits for so long, or who have pursued a way of living that has been harmful. Maybe even you yourself wonder why you have continued on doing the thing you don’t want to do, but then for some reason some day, you find you are able to choose a better way and you keep choosing it, or the person you have been hoping would find their way, begins at last to follow a different path, and you find yourself wondering why did you give up on them before? Why didn’t you keep lifting them up in your heart? The change that finally comes reminds us that there are deeper mysteries inside our lives and hearts, that work beyond the visible to move and change us.

There are questions I’m living that I don’t have answers for, and as Rilke suggested, I continue living the question, hoping someday I will live into an answer. Suffering and death, these are part of life. Recently, I’ve been thinking about the value of lighting candles in the evening during this time. It doesn’t lessen the air pollution outside, but it reminds me to remain hopeful. This is the reminder of Advent, in the midst of dark night, light can be born. It is this choosing to remain hopeful that saves us. In our weakness, and through it we can be made whole.

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