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Last year around this time, I had COVID-19. Thankfully, I did not require hospitalization, but for a week my body burned with high fevers and froze with chills. I experienced weakness, lethargy, and shortness of breath. I lost my sense of taste and smell. Sleep seemed to be the only respite. I kept imagining those who were immunocompromised or suffered from other diseases and complications and wondered how difficult it must be to hang on.

What gave me hope were the words of kindness and care from friends and loved ones.

One day my niece brought my mom to my house (an hour away) to drop off homemade arroz caldo, a chicken soup she used to make us when we were sick as children. My mom is someone that has suffered through war, poverty, and hunger, so this virus and all of the safety protocols it required, were not a deterrent for her mothering. As I stood masked in the cold garage waving at her, she yelled at me from the driveway.

“Eat the soup while it is hot..and PRAY!” 

Her words made me smile. Hot food and prayers are her cure for all things, which admittedly have worked my whole life. 

Though the pandemic threat has evolved since last year, so much in the world – variants, violence, and verdicts – still leave us grasping for hope. When I am not sure what else to do, I continue to look to words for comfort and inspiration.

Tonight, with my family gathered around the dinner table, we read the daily reflection from Tsh Oxenreider’s book Shadow and Light

“…God does, indeed, bring justice to the oppressed and strength to their hearts – and he often does this through other people. We can be those people. We can be a match to light the candle of hope for a neighbor this Advent season.”

This is part one of an Advent series reflecting on Hope, Love, Joy, and Peace.

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