Marvin Repinski: Can rough roads be made smooth?

Published 5:38 pm Friday, December 10, 2021

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“The winding roads shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth.”  (The Bible, Luke 3:5)

Most of us in the past year have experienced roads that have not been welcoming.  We use terms like upsetting, winding, dead-ends, bumpy, jarring and even wipe-outs.

My positive genes tell me that in between the reversals are the days, if we really look, of some very promising, enjoyable times.

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My purpose in writing today is to point out the positives. Are we aware of the music in this blessed season? As I follow the media I note that every school within a 50-100 mile radius of the Austin area, has presented seasonal concerts. That’s something to celebrate. Only a very few will get that new car for Christmas, but there is another kind of humming. Motors hum, but we are humming along with “I Came Upon a Midnight Clear.” 

Some prefer a cowboy-type melody that conveys the image of a stable, animals and taking out bales of hay. Music in a multitude of forms both quiets our hearts and puts familiar melodies on our lips. 

Assuming we will have snow in our parks and on our trails may be a time to just say “thank you” to the One who oversees the seasons. We can switch gears and appreciate a holy presence. This is a time to possibly go with children and walk in the snow.

In the summer 2021 edition of the journal “American Scholar,” a fact more than catches my attention. It creates a sense of appreciation to clubs, organizations, churches, schools, families that look in on the homeless or abused.

“One of the saddest elements of the past year has been the suffering of children denied the chance to play, see friends, or learn together.  For those living in vulnerable homes, the effects of the pandemic have been even worse.  Interestingly, contact with nature seems to help disadvantaged children more than others.  In 2003, a study from Cornell University’s College of Human Ecology found that access to nature could provide a buffer to life stresses in children, and particularly to vulnerable children.  Nature seemed to moderate or dampen down psychological stress.  It was a protective factor, contributing to resilience, which we may need more of to cope with future pandemics.”

I note that towns a few miles from Austin have a zest, a creativity, a kind of friendship that speaks to our inner child including our older adults, our clergy, teachers, policemen or women, the truck drivers bringing gifts and goods to us, artists, and the people who love to create lighting that brightens homes, streets and businesses. 

“Let it shine” must be a line in some poem!  If not here it is! 

The Austin Area Arts, the volunteers for Meals on Wheels, the Paramount Theatre productions, the performances of the Austin Symphony Orchestra, the bell ringers and people seated by the red kettles for the Salvation Army are to be thanked!

Those who bring a sacred visit to area cemeteries, the special gifts, toys, or financial giving to citizens or organizations are a salute to what is a sharing of our hearts.  We especially honor the health care professionals, every person who assisted in a church Christmas program and students who join service groups. Let’s not forget the men and women who plow our streets!

The comments written for Dec. 7 devotional guide “Advent and Christmas,” published by St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota, reads as follows:

“Justice demands that we are accountable for the way we live our lives, and that rights and responsibilities go hand in hand.  Our faith communities are the perfect settings to explore ways to lovingly resolve conflicts, to seek justice for victims of crime that will be lasting, and to consider how to rebuild broken relationships.  How might these conversations take place in your parish?  In your family?  What is most challenging about the teaching of Jesus?”

We embrace the humble, prayerful examples and teachings of leaders in the world, and we acknowledge our rough roads are becoming smooth. It’s time to sing a Christmas carol!