Lasha Morningstar


November 9, 2015

Advent always startles me. That time already? It forces me to realize another year is almost over. It also asks me, “So what did you accomplish this year?”

Gulp. Not as much as I wanted. Not as much as I planned. Truth be told, this was a year when those rose-coloured glasses I wear were ripped off my face. Reality hit me like a bucket of ice water.

Loss demands one grieve. Grief is hard. A quote turns up just at the right time. “God knows who belongs in your life and who doesn’t. Trust and let go. Whoever is meant to be there, will still be there.”

The author is unknown. But I mentally thank them for that counsel.

As I thrash through my beliefs, suddenly quotes from the past surface from whatever file folder in my intellect I tucked them into – ­­probably “jaundiced opinions.”

One came from a Toronto street worker. I was doing a story on inner city poverty. She and I were walking through Regent Park, 69 acres of public housing for the working poor, those on welfare, newly-arrived immigrants.

I suggested several opportunities, how things could change for them.

The weary worker turned and stared at me with a look of total incredulity.

“The only thing that matters in this world is money,” she said.

She said it with such vehemence, I knew better than to utter some sort of platitude even though I lived but two blocks away in the top floor of a tumble down, centuries-old brick row house.

The second admonition that roiled up in the midst of my painful reverie came from a powerful relative. He and his wife were concerned about the fact I was not in a relationship. He offered to intriduce me to various people – surgeons, lawyers, judges – without revealing names.

“But I would have to love them.” I said. He looked at his wife, then back at me, laughed and said, “Lash, marriage is an economic union!”

Silly me.

Money. Money. Money.

But that is not what Advent is about.

Instead of looking back, Advent is a time of looking forward, a time of preparing for Jesus’ birth.

Time for a vital perspective adjustment in life.

Another memory pops up as I write this. I was doing a story with a race car driver. He was instructing people on how to steer on winter ice.


“It’s just like life. Always keep your eyes on where you want to go, not where you are now.”

The glorious step by step path of Advent candles – purple candle of hope, purple candle of love, pink candle of joy, purple candle of peace, and the white Christ candle lead us to Jesus’ birth.

It is just a matter of being present to the season. Hard to do though, isn’t it?

Society seems to be on a roller coaster, rising and falling according to the vagaries of the stock market, wars, job loss.

Yes, these are life’s realities.

That probably is why it is crucial to hang onto what is stable in life.

Advent offers that gift.

It is structure, structure with meaning, structure with promise.

One of my touchstones is Trappist monk and mystic Thomas Merton. This is his counsel on Advent found in his book Season of Celebration:

“Our task is to seek and find Christ in our world as it is, and not as it might be. The fact that the world is other than it might be does not alter the truth that Christ is present in it and that His plan has been neither frustrated nor changed: indeed, all will be done according to His will.

“Our Advent is a celebration of this hope.”


Another touchstone for me is CBC’s Sunday afternoon radio show Tapestry. Host Mary Hynes, a Catholic and compassionate journalist, explores the role of faith in our lives.

As luck would have it – I call it angels at work – Tapestry interviewed the creators of the Blind Trust Project the Sunday before I wrote this.

A YouTube clip, it is filmed in Toronto. A blindfolded, bearded man stands on the street, with arms outstretched. Two signs are at his feet.

One reads “I am a Muslim. I am labelled as a terrorist.” The other sign reads “I trust you. Do you trust me? Give me a hug.”

The response from passersby gives hope – the first candle of Advent – in a time of lone wolf attacks, bombings.

Advent. A time to open up one’s heart so Jesus can come in at Christmas.

(Lasha Morningstar