Editor’s note: Former DCSC volunteer, Amy Brandt, reflects on the many different parts of her life waiting to be ’embraced’ including a rendition of St. Francis’ Canticle of the Sun. 

I am not yet the person I want to be. After responding to something in a snarky way, or wasting hours binge watching Netflix, that yearning for something more weighs annoyingly heavy. I am easily overwhelmed by the distance between where I am now and where I’d like to be. I desire to grow in kindness, wisdom, curiosity, and love.

But, in an attempt to stop self-criticism in its dirty little tracks, I strive to be patient with myself, as growth and healing have timelines of their own. By calming my mind and heart, I can begin to notice the goodness within myself, and within those around me. And, though I am not yet where I want to be, I can choose to celebrate the progress I have made and actively learn from those around me.

 

Through this practice, I am reminded to look to my environment with openness, as I am surrounded by great teachers. There is something valuable to learn from the Olympic mountains that watch over me, the quiet tune of Taps being played from the Naval base near my apartment, and the energetic barista at the coffee stand that I walk past every morning. By simply noticing the presence of my surroundings, I am reminded that I am not alone and that I am exactly where I need to be.

With a patient heart, I look to the environment, plants and animals, coworkers and strangers, small victories and frustrating setbacks to reveal how the divine is flowing through them. For when I remember to look for it, beauty is always present, sometimes hidden or buried, but always present. And it is simply waiting to be embraced.

 

Inspired by St. Francis’ Canticle of the Sun, I created a litany of sorts to guide my desire to grow this Advent.

A Litany of Embrace:

Sister Light, teach me to embrace darkness

Sister Rain, teach me to embrace the desire to let go

Brother Snow, teach me to embrace the temporariness of life

Sister Mountain, teach me to embrace the strength within myself

Brother Ocean, teach me to embrace unexpected waves that come my way

Brother Forest, teach me to embrace my roots and grow in tandem with others

Sister Moon, teach me to embrace and reflect the light of the sun

Sister Silence, teach me to embrace the present moment

Brother Gravity, teach me to embrace the force that centers me

My dear neighbors, teach me to embrace the beauty of diversity

My wonderful friends, teach me to embrace the commitment of authentic friendship

My loving family, teach me to embrace support from those who know and love me