Thirty-eight years ago, I was asked to join a neighborhood Bunco group. The group has been going for over 40 years. I knew all the ladies from the community Women’s Club. I had never played Bunco before, but it’s so easy. Our format has teams and there is switching of tables and partners, so you really get to talk to everybody, catch up, and get to know one another.
There are snacks on the tables and a dessert to complete the night. In the old days, we didn’t get home until 1:00 a.m. One time my husband asked me what we do there—what exactly is Bunco? It’s such an easy game that you can snack and chat and still keep track of sixes on dice. So, what’s the dessert about afterward? I explained that we weren’t done talking yet! He just shook his head.
The group has changed over the years, as ladies moved away. But these women are my best friends. We do other things together and get together with our husbands, too. I’ve traveled with some of them and have kept up with some who moved away. And like a lot of women’s stories, we’ve been with each other through sickness, surgery, divorce, teenage kids, weddings, funerals, and more.
Women are so good at community. Theresians is the same kind of community as my Bunco group, and I just treasure it!
Let’s talk about sadness.
"I am the LORD, your God,
who grasp your right hand;
It is I who say to you, 'Fear not,
I will help you.' "
by Tammy Townsend Denny, Executive Director
Sadness may seem like a strange topic during a season when signs of hope, peace, love, and joy are everywhere -- actual signs on churches, on wrapping paper, even in my neighbor’s front yard. We’re supposed to be happy during Advent, right? We’re anticipating the arrival of Jesus. Our hearts should be dancing with joy.
But, what happens when the joy isn’t there? What if sadness overwhelms the hope, peace, and love?
Through my spiritual practices, I have learned to lean into the uncomfortable feelings of sadness, to embrace them, and to be kind to them. I have learned that our lives need space for sadness as much as our lives need space for joy.
A few days ago, I was feeling some of that sadness. Nothing was especially wrong. Kids are good. Husband is good. Life is good. When I glanced at the calendar, I realized it was December 7 – Pearl Harbor Day, the day we remember all those killed during the military strike in 1941. Admittedly, I’m a bit too young to have any first-hand, emotional memories about Pearl Harbor, yet the day holds significance in my life. December 7 is my parents’ wedding anniversary. This is my first Pearl Harbor Day without either of them.
When my father died in 2001, my parents had been married 40-some years. My mother passed away in March of this year.
I have distinct memories from my childhood of the news stories about Pearl Harbor that would remind Dad it was time to buy Mom a box of chocolate-covered cherries for their anniversary. He didn’t get the fancy candy store chocolates. Nope, my dad always gave her the inexpensive, grocery store variety – those cheap chocolate-covered cherries in the red box. And my mom loved them, saying they were her favorite, though I never understood why. In my mind, Pearl Harbor and cheap, chocolate-covered cherries are forever linked.
While the memories are joyful, the sadness is real. And that’s OK. Father Terrance Klein, in a 2020 Advent reflection for the Jesuit magazine America, says, “Advent begins as an admission. It is okay to be sad, to lament.” In my lamenting, I believe God has my right hand, even on those days when I forget to ask for help.
For those who have lost children, spouses, siblings, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends this past year and for those who mourn loved ones who have died in years past (mourning has no expiration date), I pray that you find moments of peace during this Season of Joy. I also invite you to lean into the grief and sadness. Lament! Don’t push the sadness away. Embrace it. Be kind to it. And know that Theresians around the world hold you in prayer.
I leave you with an excerpt from a poem from Jan Richardson’s book The Cure for Sorrow: A Book of Blessings for Times of Grief:
Do not pass by
what is forever gone
It is an honoring
of what has been…
2021 Advent Greetings from Mary Kay Hinkle, Chair, US National Leadership Team
Happy New Year!! Liturgically speaking, of course. We look forward to the new beginnings promised by the birth of Christ. We can look to the Holy Family a little more this year, as our Theresian Prayer of Solidarity asks us to pray for women who seek to restore relationships in their families, with spouses, children, and extended family.
Advent usually has wonderful religious ceremonies, taize gatherings, sacred carol choirs and the like. Advent also starts a season of holiday events and gatherings that we’ve looked forward to all year. This year it is possible that some of those will be curtailed. But at this darkest time of the year, we bring our own lights to the banquet of love: Christmas lights everywhere, candles lit, fireworks for New Year’s-- the more lights, the better!
We Theresians will keep our lights on, our lamps lit, and expect a banquet to happen anyway, at any time. And we’ll be ready!
Theresians are meeting again, hallelujah! Inviting all women to join us in living our Gospel values should be the order of the day. We were locked up too long, away from the spiritual banquet that nourishes us any time Theresians meet. Hearts of wisdom always fill each other up, and we need that more than ever. In all our “little ways” we serve up hospitality, warmth and nurturing. If you spend a little time thinking about your friends, you can probably think of someone who would love Theresians. Please invite her to a meeting. There’s nothing like the welcome of a group of Theresians.
Spread the Love
Start Spreadin’ the News………
Theresians are looking for women who can support one another on their faith journey, make spiritual development their priority, deepen their relationship with Christ, live a life rich in Gospel values all the while having fun and creating new friendships. After a long and challenging year, we have lost many Theresian sisters and Communities so it’s a great time to bring in new members. The NLT Evangelization and Outreach Committee is excited to announce our
New Membership Campaign!
"Spread the Love"