Sometimes we find ourselves in darkness. For whatever reason, whether it be sickness, ongoing personal tragedy, the mounting stress of holiday “responsibilities,” or maybe just plain old loneliness, this can be a difficult time of year. Sometimes the three purple candles and one pink candle just isn’t enough to dispel it. Or, if you’re house is already resplendant with shiny Christmas decorations and enough lights to make Toronto Hydro smile, or if you’re out and about in the brightly lit malls, all the lights might serve to create a stark, stark contrast with your personal difficulties.

If you’ve ever tried to comfort a hysterical and crying toddler, you might have said something like, “It’s ok. I’m here. It’s all good. I’m here. Nothing to be afraid of.” In the child’s misery, it takes them a while to feel your arms rocking them back and forth. It takes them a while to hear your voice. For what seems like forever, they are blind to you. But after a while, they do notice your presence. Sobs turn to sniffles, sniffles to steadier breathing. Their little body might relax against your arms and the darkness is dispelled.

For me, an old paperback entitled The Wonder of Guadalupe by Francis Johnston served as that motherly hug during the darker parts of this Advent season. I found myself reading about this fascinating miracle a few days after the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Our Lady of Guadalupe

“Listen and let it penetrate your heart, my dear little son,” Our Lady says at some point to Juan Diego. “Do not be troubled or weighed down with grief. Do not fear any illness or vexation, anxiety or pain. Am I not here who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Am I not your fountain of life? Are you not in the folds of my mantle? In the crossing of my arms? Is there anything else you need?”

Our Lady, even tired and pregnant with Jesus, has room on her lap for me. (I can attest that there is room on the lap of even the most pregnant person for a sad, little person – maybe even two.) She has room on her lap for all who struggle with darkness. Even when we forget, blinded by our grief, she knows and will never tire of reminding us that God so loved the world that He sent His only Son, who is the Light.

Sometimes it takes me a while to notice her presence. But it’s always better when I do. Better and a little bit brighter.