By Sister Regina Siegfried, ASC

All the usual Advent themes I’ve pondered for years — waiting, preparing, longing, coming, expecting, light and dark —just weren’t speaking to me during the first week of the past Advent.

Perhaps I was over-thinking and over-praying these formerly cherished refrains. The richness in blogs and online reflections eluded me.

Believing that God is always present, is everywhere, and already in the waiting, preparing, and longing, I developed a new practice.

God holds all people and all countries with infinite love and tenderness, so I’d contribute my small part to that boundless care.  I selected a country each day, prayed for its people, and asked God to help me join my awareness to the love already enveloping that country and its citizens.

I didn’t deliberately choose the country until morning called me to prayer. On the day our Vietnamese Sisters, who had been studying in the Philippines, went to Vietnam, along with an American and Korean Sister, I prayed for that Asian country.

I found an online list of the planet’s 197 recognized countries. Who knew that São Tomé and Príncipe is a country?  I needed to Google its location to discover that it’s an island country and part of a volcano chain in the Gulf of Guinea, off the coast of Central Africa.

I trust that God hears the prayers of its Portuguese-speaking citizens. There are mornings, that, after a random choice from the list, I later need to look up information on the country. I ponder nation-states and artificial national boundaries, believing that God’s care erases the barriers and borders we humans create.

The Advent of 2018 spirals in its slow circle waiting for 2019 Advent. I hope that my 2019’s morning prayer makes me more aware of one human family populating our cherished planet as we struggle to live in peace, harmony, and concern for one another and Earth that is home to all of us.