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Posts from the ‘Christmas’ Category

Listening Points

“Above all the grace and the gifts that Christ gives to his beloved is that of overcoming self.” – Francis of Assisi

“While you are proclaiming peace with your lips, be careful to have it even more fully in your heart.” Francis of Assisi

In politics – public, work, personal – we create talking points. To win an argument. To sell our view. To get a vote. To get buy in for some corporate flavor of the month. To make “easy” money. To get more with less. Get rid of the old, bring in the new. Boiling down complex issues to sell the shortcut and scheme that will work this time. Make it simple. Even when it’s not, especially then.

If your philosophy can fit on a bumper sticker, it may be time to go a little deeper, to expand your view, to listen more and talk less. If we spent more time on listening points rather talking points, we might gain insight, understanding and connection. Finding substance through inquiry. Authenticity, belonging, understanding, patterns that lead to sustainable plans and outcomes.

We don’t have to boil everything down. Not everything is an argument. Conversation and listening lead to understanding, diversity and beauty. Spend more time honing your listening points rather than your talking points. Pay attention and listen to understand rather than craft a reply. Relationship over transaction. Right over righteousness. Compassion over correction. Empathy over apathy. Cast light, a single sunbeam.

“A single sunbeam is enough to drive away many shadows.” – Francis of Assisi

Christmastide

“Nature, which makes nothing durable, always repeats itself so that nothing which it makes may be lost.” – Oscar Wilde

“Whose heart doth hold the Christmas glow Hath little need of Mistletoe; Who bears a smiling grace of mien Need waste no time on wreaths of green; Whose lips have words of comfort spread Needs not the holly-berries red – His very presence scatters wide The spirit of the Christmastide.”– John Kendrick Bangs

Not a day but a new beginning.
To carry forward.
To infuse into your very being.
Carry the generosity, awe, wonder, gratitude, joy, peace and light of Christmas forward.
To change.
To transform.
To be made new.
And to bring it into a hungry world.

“Christmas isn’t a season. It’s a feeling.” – Edna Ferber

Fierce Reckless Love

“The earth has grown old with its burden of care, but at Christmas it always is young, the heart of the jewel burns lustrous and fair, and its soul full of music breaks the air, when the song of angels is sung.” – Phillips Brooks

“All thoughts, all passions, all delights Whatever stirs this mortal frame All are but ministers of Love And feed His sacred flame.” – Samuel Taylor Coleridge

In a world that yells you’re not enough, not welcome, don’t belong, Christmas marks the end of isolation, aloneness, unworthiness, the beginning of acceptance, joy and love. Rejected from the start, no room at the Inn, Jesus comes to walk the same earth, experience the same judgment and though innocent, bears our own sins on the Cross to save the world. Fierce, reckless, unbelievable, undeserving love, grace and mercy.

Put down your rules, assumptions, opinions, ego, religion, judgment, comparison and flat familiar narratives for a moment. Open up to mere consideration of this fierce reckless love. Be held in the invitation, the welcoming, the homecoming, where nothing makes sense yet possibility lingers in inquiry, in imagination.

Change your answer, say yes and “make room at the Inn.” Don’t follow the crowd, break the rules, go off trail. Crack the door, open the window to wonder, contentment, delight, mystery, magnificence. Rest in the blessed assurance that you are never alone, never have been, nor will be.

That’s the message of Christmas – belonging, not just some, but all. Christmas demands more, gives more and transforms if we allow. Accept the invitation in your heart to come home where the hem of heaven kisses the earth this morning and each day going forward. Offered to each without reserve or measure.

Merry, Merry Christmas.

“There are four questions of value in life, Don Octavio. What is sacred? Of what is the spirit made? What is worth living for and what is worth dying for? The answer to each is the same. Only love.” – Lord Byron

Prelude

“Of all the seasons, winter is the most conducive to the great art of dormancy. This art requires an appreciation of semi-consciousness: the beautiful and necessary prelude to sleep – a special pleasure in itself that is all too often neglected, under-valued or looked down upon.” – Michael Leunig

“The earth was all before me. With a heart
Joyous, nor scared at its own liberty,
I look about; and should the chosen guide
Be nothing better than a wandering cloud,
I cannot miss my way.”― William Wordsworth, The Prelude

Christmas upon us.
Enter slowly and sit awhile.
Pause the busy.
Rest in the beauty.
Embrace time with family and friends.
Be present in each moment.
Witnessing the true gift of Christmas.
Christmas Eve, the prelude, the tipping point.
Spacious. Abundant. Sacred.
Joy. Peace. Light.

Christmas Eve Eve

“God is in the details.” – Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

“Expectancy is the atmosphere for miracles.” – Edwin Louis Cole

In these last hours of Advent, prepare to enter Christmas through eyes and heart of a child. The waiting is over and the gift is arriving yet again to change the story, the trajectory, the future.

In wonder, love and joy, never miss the chance to pause from skating to plop down to make snow angels. To delight in the season and to carry it forward into the world. Generosity, kindness, compassion, understanding, inquiry, surprise, transformation, wanderlust, reverence, laughter, dancing, hope, singing, faith, color, trust, mystery, connection, snow angels. All gifts of this season. Open, invite it all in and in turn, give them all away freely. Be held and hold.

Merry Christmas. May we carry it forward when we return to ordinary days to transform them into extraordinary days.

“The Gospel comes in power and the Holy Spirit, with much assurance. If you call upon the name of the Lord, God will transform you on the inside, give you the shock of your life, and give you everlasting life on top of that.” – Ray Comfort

Plant Peace

“The most valuable possession you can own is an open heart. The most powerful weapon you can be is an instrument of peace.” – Carlos Santana

“Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for a kindness.” – Lucius Annaeus Seneca

As the waiting, preparation and anticipation of Advent comes to its last few days, may Christmas be born in all hearts and poured out in actions. Love yourself so you can properly love others. Without condition, counting or delay, start from a place of love and be an instrument that builds, creates, enlivens and carries kindness and light into a chaotic undeserving world. In little things, great things bloom. Plant seeds of peace and love, grow joy and awe.

Prayer of St. Francis

“Lord make Me an instrument of Your peace
Where there is hatred let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness joy.
O Divine master grant that I may
Not so much seek to be consoled as to console
To be understood, as to understand.
To be loved. as to love
For it’s in giving that we receive
And it’s in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it’s in dying that we are born…
To eternal life.”

Peace. Love. Pardon. Faith. Hope. Light. Joy.
To you today and in the magical miraculous days ahead as Christmas comes to change our hearts and, in turn, the world.
An instrument of peace. A powerful weapon.

Shape of Your Soul

“Nature is the direct expression of the divine imagination.” – John O’Donohue

“May you realize that the shape of your soul is unique, that you have a special destiny here, that behind the facade of your life there is something beautiful, good, and eternal happening. May you learn to see yourself with the same delight, pride, and expectation with which God sees you in every moment.” – John O’Donohue

Steeped and anchored.
Free, defying gravity.
Dancing and poetry.
Grounding and embracing.
Knowing and mystery.
Wide and deep.
Intuition and clarity.
Beyond, above, below and all encompassing.

May you enter your soul space daily to rest in awe, held in delight.
The heart of your purpose and beauty of your being.
Defined by God, not others or self.
Never confine or define God on human terms.
Too too small.
The expanse of the sky, the depth of the ocean. Perhaps, yet still so much more.
Undefinable and familiar at the same time.
Accept the unknowing and enter the expanse.
Beauty. Goodness. Shelter.
Soul work.

“All through your life your soul takes care of you…your soul is alive and awakened, gathering, sheltering and guiding your ways and days in the world. In effect, your soul is your secret shelter.” – John O’Donohue

Final Steps to the Finish Line

“Your sacred space is where you can find yourself again and again.” – Joseph Campbell

A week from today is Christmas Eve. The hustle and hurry to get the last gifts, preparing for gatherings, wrapping up work for the year, rushing to the finish line. Don’t let these last steps get lost in the chaos, missing the gifts of Advent waiting, reflection, beauty and transformation.

Our lives are more than headlines. Get into the sentence structure of your story. The beginning, middle and end, noticing how the narrative weaves together. In the nouns, verbs, prepositions. In the commas, semicolons and periods. In the paragraphs breaks, transitions and in the final paragraph that sums it all up to create meaning and foster growth.

Dwell in the full Christmas season and story. Still, calm, quiet. Oh, Holy Night and all the days that lead there. Find your sacred space in it all.

a blessing for a chaotic season by Kate Bowler

“blessed are we, the fearful. though we long to be people of peace, we can’t lie

we are afraid.

afraid there wont’ be enough – enough resources, enough time, enough memories.

blessed are we who ask You for wisdom, show us what to turn from, what to set aside.

come Lord, that we might see you, move with You, keep pace with You.

blessed are we who ask that this Advent we might dwell together quietly in our homes.

come Lord, that we might be for others the peace they cannot give.

blessed are we who look to You and say God, truly, we are troubled and afraid. come govern our hearts and calm our fears.

Oh Prince of Peace, still our restless selves, calm our anxious hearts, quiet our busy minds.”

 

Ropes, Ladders and Tunnels

“The magnificent cosmos is a palace that has the sun and the moon as its lamps and the stars as its candles; time is like a rope or ribbon hung within it, on to which the Glorious Creator each year threads a new world.” – Said Nursi

“Darkness comes. In the middle of it, the future looks blank. The temptation to quit is huge. Don’t. You are in good company… You will argue with yourself that there is no way forward. But with God, nothing is impossible. He has more ropes and ladders and tunnels out of pits than you can conceive. Wait. Pray without ceasing. Hope.” – John Piper

You can be both optimistic and realistic.
Seeking, hunting without ceasing for light in the darkness.
Flowers and weeds.
They coexist.

As we begin the last month of the year and begin to make “plans” for 2022, do not forego these final days.
Do not forgo any days of the year.
This time of Advent to Christmas holds both celebration and struggle.
They coexist.

Amidst all of the seasons of Advent in life, there is joy to be found in the waiting, wandering and wondering.
And in the searching and seeking, the finding begins in the process itself, not in the arrival.
Take hold of the ropes, ladders and tunnels.
Protest for hope.

Light remains so seek it and allow it to come to and through you.
You may be the rope, ladder or tunnel someone needs today.

a blessing for the advent of hope by Kate Bowler

“o God, these are darkening days, with little hope in sight. o God, help us in our fear and desperation. anchor us in hope!

‘let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.’ —John 14:1

blessed are we with eyes open to see the accumulated suffering of danger, sickness and loneliness,

the injustice of racial oppression, the unimpeded greed and misuse of power, violence, intimidation, and use of dominance for its own sake,

the mockery of truth, and disdain for weakness or vulnerability—and worse the seeming powerlessness of anyone trying to stop it.

blessed are we who ask: where are you God? and where are Your people— the smart and sensible ones who fight for good and have the power to make it stick?

blessed are we who cry out: o God, why does the bad always seem to win? when will good prevail? o God we trust You, for we know You and love You.

for You o Lord, are the One who seeks out the helpless, lifts them on Your shoulders, and carries them home no matter how broken they are, or what wrong they have done.

o God, seek us out, and find us, we your helpless people, and lead us out to where hope lies where your kingdom will come and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. for You are the anchor dropped into the future —our future.

open your hands as you release your prayers. then take hold of hope. as protest.”

 

27 Days

“The word advent means ‘expectation’. What advent can do for us is create a sense of hope.” – Louie Giglio

“Into this world, this demented inn in which there is absolutely no room for him at all, Christ comes uninvited.” – Thomas Merton.

Today marks the first day of Advent. The season of waiting, anticipation, hope. Amidst two years of an ongoing pandemic, politicization and polarization, allow this season to do its work in you, in all of us.

Author and historian Kate Bowler is offering a free 4-Week Advent Devotional – the season of almost. Daily readings to ignite color in winter, instill hope in the weariness of an ongoing pandemic and prompt reflection to give deeper meaning beyond the season.

I noticed a sign in my neighbor’s yard yesterday “Never Give Up.” Amen. We all need that simple and profound reminder to keep going and of our resilience and strength, hidden beneath frustration and disappointment. While this collective journey has been long, we will get through it, changed to be sure. And in the midst of the waiting, we need no permission nor approval to invite joy, peace and light in to make the journey holy and sacred.

“The season of Advent means there is something on the horizon the likes of which we have never seen before. So stay. Sit. Linger. Tarry. Ponder. Wait. Behold. Wonder. There will be time enough for running.” – Jan Richardson

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