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Walking Our Faith: Pursue joy and be open to joy

Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson
Walking Our Faith
Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson

A visitor to Breckenridge might be fooled into thinking this is just another tourist town.  Certainly that’s what I thought when I first arrived here five years ago, and that’s exactly what my brother remarked the first time I drove him down Main Street.

“It’s like Disneyland,” were his exact words. He had arrived just in time for Oktoberfest to celebrate my first year in this new town that I was determined to call home. He was unimpressed.

That was five years ago. I had spent the previous five years living in Evergreen, where I had struggled to make deep friendships or establish a sense of community.

But on Sunday night as I sat in our Riverwalk auditorium for the free concert featuring the Summit County Concert Band, the Summit County Choral Society, along with the Summit High School band and choral students, I knew people in the choir and the band, and as I looked around the auditorium filled to capacity, I realized that to live in Summit County is in many ways to be part of a small-town community.

We are very blessed with great ski resorts and a booming tourist industry, but we also are blessed with community-minded people who live here year-round and who make Summit County feel like small towns with unique personalities, bound together with civic pride.

This is the third week of Advent. How quickly this month is flying by. This week’s theme is joy, represented by the pink candle in the Advent wreath. It is a turning point from the blue and purple of the first two weeks of reflection to a time of anticipation. One of this week’s readings is Mary’s Magnificat:

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God, my Savior; for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.” (Luke 1:46-55)

I hope you’ll take a moment to read the rest of what I believe is one of the most moving passages in the Bible and captures our four Advent words — hope, faith, joy and peace — more beautifully than any writer before or since.

I met the first two weeks of Advent with some trepidation, like many people who are facing the holidays as single or newly widowed or perhaps working here during the ski season and not able to get home. There are a lot of people who will be alone at Christmas, and that aloneness can create the feeling of isolation.

To be honest, at the beginning of the month, I felt the old familiar blue shadow of sadness creeping toward me, and my natural reaction was to hunker down at home and not leave the house unless going to work or church.

But when I heard about the holiday concert at the Riverwalk center, I realized I needed to participate in the holiday festivities, not because I thought it would make me feel better, but because I wanted to feel better, and I wanted to be part of my beloved community.

I saw Joyce singing and Vern playing the trombone. I sat with Pat on one side, Ted on the other, Sheila and Mike in front of me and waved to Robert, Graciela and the other Pat. And I understood that to experience joy, we must be open to joy, and we must pursue joy. And I realized I had come full circle from the Saturday afternoons, five years ago, when I sat in this same auditorium with my knitting, listening to the National Repertory Orchestra students practice, knowing no one.

During Advent, we are moving with anticipation and joy toward the Newborn King, but even if we are single or newly widowed or working at a ski resort and far from home, we don’t have to be alone at this holiday.

Advent calls us to gather, people across the span of centuries, from all corners of the globe. We are one moving toward the light of love. And that is what makes us a family.

Don’t spend this holiday alone. Allow yourself to be caught up in the joy of celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ and the hope and love that comes with that celebration. Allow yourself to participate, to be part of this good Summit County community.

We are a big-hearted people from many walks of life and many religious beliefs. What I have discovered in my five years is somehow the beauty of this place has rubbed off on us and made us kinder. Perhaps living in the mountains has placed us closer to heaven and made it a little easier to experience the enormity of God’s love. 

Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson’s column “Walking our Faith” publishes Saturdays in the Summit Daily News. Anderson is the author of 10 novels and nonfiction books on faith. She has lived in Breckenridge since 2016. Contact her at suzanne@suzanneelizabeths.com.

For more

I encourage you over the next two weeks to be part of our community.

• Dillon Community Church is having a free community singalong Sunday at 6 p.m. with the Summit Choral Society.
• Father Dyer Church in Breckenridge offers a weekly free cooked meal for anyone looking for a place to enjoy community at 6 p.m. every Sunday.
• St. John the Baptist Episcopal Church in Breckenridge offers a free community dinner at 6 p.m. Tuesdays.
• The Summit County Libraries offer free events for adults, kids and families. There’s something for all ages and interests.
• As we move into Christmas week, churches across the county will offer Christmas services as well as Christmas Eve services at the Riverwalk Center.

If you have a faith-based or free community holiday event you’d like mentioned in next week’s column, email suzanne@suzanneelizabeths.com.


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