Dear Sayed: 1st Sunday of Advent (2016)

The Church has now moved into the Season of Advent. It is a time to prepare for the coming of Jesus, often a time in which we prepare our homes for the receiving of guests, as a tradition of Christmas hospitality. Spiritually, we prepare ourselves to welcome Jesus into our hearts.

It was a great privilege to begin this advent season in the way we did today. My daughter and I attended a card-making workshop, hosted by our dear friend, Fiona, whose contacts will send them on to various places, including the MITA in Parkville, Vic. It was a treasured time of creativity, friendship and for me, personal prayer. Here is the day, in my daughter’s words:

Today Mum, Fiona and I made Christmas cards for people in detention centres. We made about 20 handmade cards with all sorts of Christmassy decorations. There were cards with Christmas trees, candles, stars, buttons and many other things. There were many people we wrote to, but I wrote to Sayed, a young 6-year-old and Azizullah, a 13-year-old. It’s quite upsetting to hear that many people, especially young children, are put into detention centres. Around Christmas time, in the detention centres, they don’t even get a mention about Christmas. In the cards we put our names, what city we live in, and that we are thinking about them. I hope that you too can take the time this Advent and Christmas, to pray for the people who are in detention centres around Christmas. –Pia, 11 years


With our handmade cards for our asylum seeker friends in detention.

Children never cease to amaze me. I am so grateful that I get to witness this daily. On the car ride home, Pia and I were talking about what we did in the afternoon. The conversation went on to the plight of these people who are locked up and given no presents, no decoration and no joy. It was then that she exclaimed, “How can a 6-year-old cope!”, fighting back tears, her voice breaking with emotion. A little while later, she said to me in a voice still shaken, “This music explains the situation.” The song that was playing was “Do You Wanna Build A Snowman?” from the soundtrack to Disney’s Frozen (a highly recommended film, if you haven’t seen it!), sung by the optimistic and bubbly Anna, wherein she tries to connect with her estranged sister Elsa, who has a tendency to isolate herself. The song starts out incredibly playful and carefree, but the point at which my daughter commented, is an instrumental interlude to mark the tragic death of the characters’ parents, at sea.

I listened some more, to my daughter, and to the music. Then I heard these lyrics:

Please, I know you’re in there,
People are asking where you’ve been
They say “have courage”, and I’m trying to
I’m right out here for you, just let me in
We only have each other
It’s just you and me
What are we gonna do?

Dear Sayed, dear little one. Dear Azizullah. Dear Adam, dear Leila, dear Ali, and to all of you whose names we do not know. Please, I know you’re in there. People are asking where you’ve been. They say “have courage”, and I’m trying to, I’m right out here for you… we are right out here for you. And praying with and for you. We send you love and open hearts, especially in this advent time.

This Advent, how will you open your hearts? How will you prepare a home and make space for Jesus and his family? May this time be a mindful journey of contemplation and compassion. It will be busy, but here we are at the beginning of it: how will you stop for a moment, to listen to the Spirit of God?


Another Side of Romance


In light of upcoming Valentine’s Day, Vinita Hampton Wright reflects on:

…What happens to a person willing to be swept up in love.

Romance requires an open heart. Whether you are lifted out of yourself by a kiss or by a prayer of deep contemplation, neither can happen before you say yes to the possibility. Yes sets in motion new relationships, new conversations, and new avenues for showing others care. You don’t get to the kiss before you allow your eyes to meet another’s. You don’t get to the gifts of friendship until you say yes to the talk over coffee. You don’t get to that sense of the Divine until you say, in some part of yourself, yes, even though you have no idea what you’re saying yes to.

Romance is risk. It’s difficult to experience romance of any kind while you are fearful and self-protecting. So, whether or not February 14 signals to you the celebration of a significant other, I believe that God wants to see real romance in your life. Divine Love wants you brave and joyful. If you don’t feel particularly brave or joyful, be willing to get there. That’s a start.

For me, what’s important is our openness and ability to make space on our hearts for love. Sometimes we might say out loud that we love one another, but perhaps more often, talk about having love for another (“Do unto others…”) in our regard for the other. Yet children express it so freely, even though it is known to the adult: “I love you to the moon, around the sun and around the world 500 times and back.” Why might that be?

Perhaps it has to do with a child’s innocence; not naiveté but innocence. Love is so important to them. Expressing it is so important. And therein lies the fort of being,  waiting to be unlocked with the key of courage.

You don’t get to that sense of the Divine until you say, in some part of yourself, yes, even though you have no idea what you’re saying yes to.

Romance is risk. It’s difficult to experience romance of any kind while you are fearful and self-protecting.


• In prayer, do you allow for romance with God’s love?
• “Only by loving and being loved does one become truly human.” -William Johnston SJ

Four Voices, One Message

Words do not convey the gratitude and joy I feel for having stumbled upon this jewel-of-an-example of what good humanity can achieve. If you watch one video today, make it this one.


Beyond (L-R): Dechen Shak-Dagsay, Tina Turner, Regula Curti and Sawani Shende-Sathaye.

“Beyond” is a compilation of song and prayer featuring four different voices that convey one shared universal truth.

The opening lines say:

A compassionate heart takes the fear away and gives inner strength. It is vital to educate the heart beyond yourself. The true meaning of life is love. By giving, you find true happiness.

You can watch the video here through SBS.