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Posts from the ‘Christmas’ Category

Beginnings

“Genuine beginnings begin within us, even when they are brought to our attention by external opportunities.” – William Throsby Bridges

While this is the season of new beginnings, we are surrounded by new beginnings all year long, well beyond January. Make your resolution this year to be awake, attentive and open to all that’s new each and every day. If we can achieve this, we won’t need New Year’s Eve to start again.

This year has been a year of many endings with seeds of new beginnings scattered throughout. Snuggle and hold tight to your blessings and release all of the rest.

“Nourish beginnings, let us nourish beginnings. Not all things are blest, but the seeds of all things are blest. The blessing is in the seed.” – Muriel Rukeyser

“Nourish beginnings, let us nourish beginnings. Not all things are blest, but the seeds of all things are blest. The blessing is in the seed.” – Muriel Rukeyser

A Beer with Dad

“No person was ever honored for what he received. Honor has been the reward for what he gave.” – Calvin Coolidge

It’s tradition to have Christmas a few days early at my sister’s house for my immediate family. Finishing a very busy day filled with meetings, phone calls, “do you have a minute” drop ins, start and stop through rush hour to get out to White Bear for dinner. With 30 minutes to spare, I ran an “errand” and went up to Manitou Station to honor another tradition. A beer with Dad before the festivities begin.

“While we are living in the present, we must celebrate life every day, knowing that we are becoming history with every work, every action, every deed.” – Mattie Stepanek

“While we are living in the present, we must celebrate life every day, knowing that we are becoming history with every work, every action, every deed.” – Mattie Stepanek

Sitting down at the bar in our usual spot, I moved his empty chair a bit closer and turned it my way and toasted a good life and told him what I have told him every day since April 28th – “ I miss you.”  While birthdays and the holidays won’t be the same without him, I miss the daily-ness of him. We talked every day and solved all of the world’s problems. Two fellow introverts who knew each other through and through, often without words needing to be exchanged.

So if this Christmas, you have an empty chair or two around the table, give a toast to those who have gone ahead and celebrate your life now in honor of them. And make sure that you hug those who remain in the chairs around the table a minute or two longer. Life is so very short. Be kind, forgiving and fill your days with love so that when you are gone, many will raise a glass to honor your life and how you spent your time here.

Pull Over

“My soul can find no staircase to Heaven unless it be through Earth’s loveliness.” – Michelangelo

As we fill our days with more things to do, struggling to choose and racing through only to go backwards, we need to stop and pull over.

Pull over and look around. Our tunnel vision and desperate pursuit of what’s next blinds us to what’s right in this very moment of now. In the race for the unimportant and urgent, we miss the beauty of the daily journey, those tender moments of connection and bright lights burning through the darkness.

“This world is but a canvas to our imagination.” – Henry David Thoreau

“This world is but a canvas to our imagination.” – Henry David Thoreau

When I look into my 3 month old great nephew Liam’s eyes, he gazes with interest and attention deep into my eyes, right to my very soul. And after the blunt force of this year, this thread of new life, of innocence, is pulling me through to the other side of unfathomable chaos.

Pull over and stare at the pine tree lighting up the winter night. Gaze into the eyes of another and let your souls touch if but for a moment. And as so eloquently captured in Michelangelo’s stunning Creation of Adam in the Sistine Chapel, God reaches down from the above, our fingers touch and the world is made new.

Pull over.

Crammed

“Earth is crammed with heaven.” – Elizabeth Barrett Browning

In this season of giving, may we be abundantly aware of all that we already have received and our boundless capacity to give more. Be filled, content and grateful.

Wishing you love, joy, peace, clarity, awe and Merry Christmas.

Sacred Moments

“Love’s greatest gift is its ability to make everything it touches sacred.” – Barbara de Angelis

Coming home from work last Thursday exhausted, I felt the weight of the past month of travel and busyness resting on my neck. Suddenly the doorbell rang. An unexpected visitor. My niece Emily stopped by and we went to dinner. The weight lifted. What I thought mattered, really didn’t anymore.

On Friday, I went to a friend’s brother’s funeral service. Family and friends gathered to remember and grieve. The priest noted someone once said that coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous. Puts a new perspective on how we are a part of “coincidences” every day.

On Saturday, my nephew Mark earned his MBA while working full-time. We celebrated his hard work and diligence. You can feel the joy on his face and it’s well deserved. The degree is an accomplishment, but who this young man is becoming as a person is much more important. A bright and purpose-filled future.

“Just to be is a blessing. Just to live is holy.” – Abraham Joshua Heschel

“Just to be is a blessing. Just to live is holy.” – Abraham Joshua Heschel

Whether a surprise visit, a graduation or a funeral, sacred moments surround us longing to be noticed, honored and taken in. We have 20/20 vision when it comes to problems and irritations, yet somehow we are blind to the gifts and blessings that remain faithful and ever present.

God’s ringing the door bell, crying with us at the funeral, cheering our victories as we foster and grow the gifts that He bestowed on each one of us. When we recognize, witness, fully participate and emerge ourselves in these moments, we show the gratitude and awe that is owed.

As we enter this most holy and sacred week, may we see with new eyes, hear with uncanny clarity and let the spirit that is born at Christmas enter our very being all year long, each day, each sacred moment.

Brilliance

“With an eye made quiet by the power of harmony, and the deep power of joy, we see into the life of things.” – William Wordsworth

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

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

While our vision dulls and blurs, Christmas never loses its brilliance. It’s best seen after, when the quiet settles in and the rushing halts. Remaining steady and ever present, inviting us to return to our best selves long after the decorations are put away. Overflowing with awe, in the depths of great love, Christmas shows itself again and again through giving, gratitude and grace.

 

Green Christmas

“I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.” – Charles Dickens

“Green is the prime color of the world, and that from which its loveliness arises.” – Pedro Calderon de la Barca

“Green is the prime color of the world, and that from which its loveliness arises.” – Pedro Calderon de la Barca

With high 30 temperatures and drizzle over the past week, this year we are going to have a very green Christmas in Minnesota and many parts of the country. People were golfing yesterday. I may need to cut the grass if this keeps up. We have had many white and cold Christmases and after the November deep freeze, I am alright with a green Christmas. And I am sure winter has not had its last word.

It’s also a wonderful reminder of what this season is truly about – birth, vitality, life renewed, vibrant color, warmth, redemption, faith, hope and love. This season can be carried in our hearts and actions into the new year and every single day.

Merry Green Christmas.

New Old Self

“Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next.” – Gilda Radner

For the past seven weeks, Lily has been wearing a cone on her head to stop her from scratching at her face. Thanks to the University of Minnesota Veterinary Hospital treatment, the infection is healing with a combination of medications and she’s been “cone-free” for five days. She’ll be going back in January to start tests for food allergies.

Even with the cone on her head, she’s kept a good attitude but not quite herself. In the past week, Lily’s starting to get back to her new “old self.” Frolicking, wrestling and of course getting into a bit of trouble.

On Friday when we were opening gifts at our first round of Christmas family events, she was busy on the table eating dessert ahead of us. Luckily we caught her in time before she cleared the table. She’s back on her game, full bounce in her step.

“From there to here, and here to there, funny things are everywhere.” – Dr. Seuss

“From there to here, and here to there, funny things are everywhere.” – Dr. Seuss

We all go through stretches of difficulties and challenges (cones on our head) where we lose perspective and a bit of ourselves. And when we come through, we return to our old selves but somehow newer, stronger, with a deeper gratitude.

And Lily highly recommends eating dessert first. It’s a sweet life.

MERRY Christmas

“Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.” – Calvin Coolidge

The preparations and rushing around that lead up to Christmas makes this special and reflective time often feel like “Hurry Christmas.” There are no gifts that you can give that are more important than your full attention and presence with family and friends. So slow down, be present and make sure that “merry” is in the forefront and center of your Christmas. And remember to carry the true spirit of Christmas in your heart every day.

“Christmas, my child, is love in action. Every time we love, every time we give, it's Christmas.” – Dale Evans

“Christmas, my child, is love in action. Every time we love, every time we give, it’s Christmas.” – Dale Evans

Healing

“Changing is not just changing the things outside of us. First of all we need the right view that transcends all notions including of being and non-being, creator and creature, mind and spirit. That kind of insight is crucial for transformation and healing.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

Last night, I found a new show on PBS called “Sacred Journeys,” a six part series about pilgrimages people take around the world. This particular story was about wounded warriors, our veterans, going to Lourdes, France to be “cured.” Over 5 million people go to Lourdes each year for healing, a sacred place since 1858 when a young fourteen year old girl Bernadette Sourbiroux had 18 visions of the Blessed Virgin, referred to as apparitions.

Many soldiers journeyed to this sacred place without limbs, blind, suffering from Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the deep wounds of war. Through the many interviews, they made the distinction between being cured and healed. At the end of the hour, their hopes of a cure were transformed into the gift of healing, accepting, peace.

We often focus on the cure, the instant fix, the reset, when what we really need in life and in our relationships is to be healed. That is to accept our circumstances, no matter what they may be, with a peace and grace beyond understanding. For when we search for healing instead of the cure, we find the lasting cure is healing and it transforms and transcends the crosses that we all bear.

And when we find healing within, we can begin to fill the void of that often hollow and distant platitude of “peace on earth”. For when we foster peace within our hearts, souls and our homes, we will bring the world one step closer to peace, justice and love. And we need not go to Lourdes to find it.

May this season bring you healing and in turn real peace on earth.

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