Always We Begin Anew

“Always we begin anew.” – Saint Benedict

When you read this, we will be in the midst of the season of Advent in which we prepare our hearts and souls for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is the beginning of the church year. It is intentionally a quiet season and very contrary to the holiday rush and noise we are exposed to. We are given a decided choice.

The holiday rush speeds, crowds and busies our lives. Advent gives us an alternative. It is a time of beginnings. Each time the earth circles the sun, as Benedict says, “Always we begin anew.” Webster defines “anew” as “in a new or different and typically more positive way.” If we listen to John the Baptist, we hear that whoever we are it is a time for conversion, or as Benedict tells us in the Rule, conversatio, a conversion of life.

The other day I listened to the director of the University of Minnesota’s School of Nursing on public radio. She was responding to a question about how to be healthy during this rush time before Christmas. She responded in terms of what she does during this time: she seeks solitude and quiet. She takes a walk where she can be close to nature. She takes the time to write notes to friends and family. Of course my ears perked up. That is what we are called to do in Advent. Curious. Health found in quietness. I see something similar whenever I enter the St. Cloud Hospital: “Silence heals.”

Traditionally we are given 12 days, beginning with Christmas Day itself, to whoop it up. But this time of expectancy that we call Advent is a time to begin anew. “Always we begin anew.”

Charles Preble, OblSB

Photo: Snowy courtyard, taken by Amanda Hackett