Advent … Staying Awake … Part 2

Capitol Christmas Tree from 2009, tree with multicolored lights in front of lighted Capitol dome at night

I was struck this morning by a few paragraphs in historian Heather Cox Richardson’s daily “Letters from an American” blog. She wrote about several topics, including the lighting of the Capitol Christmas tree:

“Speaker Pelosi was lighting the Capitol Christmas tree with fourth-grader Catcuce Micco Tiger, who is a citizen of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) and has ancestry from the Seminole Tribe of Florida and Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. 

“Tiger won the role of youth tree lighter with an essay sharing the Cherokee origin story for evergreen trees. “After creating all plants and animals,” Pelosi explained, “our Creator asked them to fast, pray, and stay awake for seven nights. But at the end, only a few were awake. The trees that stayed awake were rewarded with the ability to keep their leaves yearlong and with special healing powers. It is a story of faith and gratitude—of hope enduring through the dark night.”

“’And,’ Pelosi added, ‘it is hope that we celebrate each holiday season—that through the cold and dark winter, spring will someday come.'”

As I read this Cherokee story and the admonition to celebrate and hold on to hope, I heard echoes of Sunday’s Gospel admonition to “Stay awake!”

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