…to start thinking about advent. Already, retail stores are luring Christmas buyers with their festive displays, which always get me excited. It hit me that I could redirect those feelings towards starting my spiritual advent as soon as stores begin to deck their halls. In the first week of advent, the church invites us to awaken from our slumber by paying attention and opening our eyes to the face of Christ in our midst. So I thought to myself, “Why wait?”
A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of meeting a person whom many Canadians have simply come to know as ‘the aboriginal singer songwriter’. Susan Aglukark stopped by the Salt + Light studios for an interview about her involvement with Canada’s Sunshine Dreams for Kids Foundation. Given her powerful personal ministry to Canada’s aboriginal youth, it’s no wonder this organization asked her to share that same message of hope to children with severe physical disabilities or life-threatening illnesses.
I was fortunate to be the one interviewing her. She shared with me some inspiring stories of both her personal struggles growing up in a small northern community with little-to-no opportunities and the daily heartbreak she experiences watching her people suffer.
Feeling called to bring hope to the next generation, Susan quickly became a highly sought after motivational speaker and workshop facilitator for aboriginal youth. There is a radiance and humility about her that’s hard to ignore. She spoke so sincerely about her passion for children that she couldn’t hold back emotion. When I asked her if she would share a memorable case, she didn’t hesitate for a moment:
“This happened during the very first workshop I gave. I’ll never forget it. There was a young girl sitting in the first row who hadn’t taken her eyes off me for one second. She listened so intensely throughout the entire workshop that I felt I wanted to thank her and her mother for coming. When I approached them, the mother was immediately hesitant to allow me to speak to her daughter. I discovered that the girl had lived through so much family trauma that she wouldn’t let anyone touch her, nor had she uttered a single word in years. I asked the mother to then simply communicate to her that I found her so beautiful, inside and out. When she did, the girl looked up at me and grinned from ear to ear. Her mother began crying with disbelief, she hadn’t seen her daughter smile in years. I will never forget the gift this girl gave me.”
Susan continues to travel to some of Canada’s most remote reservations to continue to bring hope to so many of these very situations. I was so moved by her experiences, her passion and her dedication to being salt and light for her people that I can only hope to emulate her in a small way, especially during this time of year which can be one of tremendous sadness, loneliness or stress for so many. Distractions aside, (including the excitement of noticing the first Christmas-themed Starbucks cups in the hands of passers by), let our prayer be to both seek out and bring out from within ourselves the loving and salvific face of Christ during this season of hope...which can never come too soon.