Exams. A student's life is not so bad until evaluation comes. Exam, term paper, whatever it is, it looms larger than life. It is then that we students taste fear: fear of failure, fear of a blow to our pride, fear even of feelings of inadequacy, fear of the unknown.
Is there even fear of death? Perhaps not directly, but subtly so. Perhaps, I realized today, we feel its shadow. Why else would we cling so tightly to such a finite thing as academic success? In our short lives, one little test can take on significant proportions. Does it really matter? If we are really just dust to dust, ashes to ashes, trying to make a difference in a suffering world, then maybe we do have reason to stress out about such things. Or maybe that is reason to give up in despair.
The season of advent, concurrent with this time of intense pressure in the lives of a student, helps us in this respect. In the story of the incarnation, we hear of hope, of a light glimmering in darkness, of God intervening in the ordinary and often dark lives of human beings.
That is part of the wonder we hear in Mary's voice as she breaks into the song we call the Magnificat:
"My soul glorifies the LordAnd in the incredible prophecy of Isaiah, fulfilled in the coming of Christ:
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant." (Luke 1:46-48)
The people walking in darknessMay we have eyes to see that light which dawns on us.
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
a light has dawned.
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, [b] Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David's throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the LORD Almighty
will accomplish this.