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Posts from the ‘Christmas’ Category

Oh Come All Ye Faithless, Hopeless and Lost

Today, the most sacred of days for Christians, we celebrate the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ, a baby born in a barn, rejected from the beginning. As I savored Celine Dion’s renditions of Oh Come All Ye Faithful and Oh Holy Night, it occurred to me that we are called to invite not only the faithful, but the faithless, hopeless and lost into the miracle of today.

No religion or denomination owns today or fully comprehends the grace, love and mercy that is given without condition. It is a celebration for all humankind – the hurting, the struggling and the imperfect.

And those of us who believe in the birth, crucifixion and resurrection are expected to share the love, kindness and awe born on this day. Less talking, more showing in how we live it out each day. It requires humility, forgiveness, acceptance and a big dose of joy.

Today and each day ahead, a weary world rejoices. Join us in unexplainable hope, faith, love and light. We are the imperfect, the faithful that falter and the found who go astray. There’s plenty of room at the table. Oh holy night indeed.

“O holy night the stars are brightly shining

It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth

Long lay the world in sin and error pining

Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth

A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices

For yonder breaks a new glorious morn

Fall on your knees”

Merry Merry Christmas!

First Real Snow

“I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says, “Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.”― Lewis Carroll

“It is the life of the crystal, the architect of the flake, the fire of the frost, the soul of the sunbeam. This crisp winter air is full of it.” – John Burroughs

This morning we got our first real snow. The snow that’s heavy, plowable and will probably be the base snow that will remain until April. The proclamation that Fall has officially done its job and it’s winter’s turn. Transition time over.

It’s beautiful, fresh, clean and a big inconvenience on the busiest travel day of the year as we kick off six weeks of holiday busyness.

This kind of snow slows us down. And there in lies the gift.

Slow down and celebrate the gifts that you already have right now. Not the ones you’ll race to get on Black Friday. Don’t miss what already is present in search of presents that can never replace a long meaningful conversation, a call or text to check in on someone who’s lost someone this year and this is the first holiday without a loved one, a hug that softly whispers “you’re not alone, and it’s going to be alright.”

Be grateful for all that is, was and will come. God weaves life with both struggle and awe. So often, we only see the struggle and miss the awe. Abundance is an attitude and awareness, not a bank account and pile of gifts. Gratitude is the best gift you can give and receive.

Even in Minnesota, when we know that winter never skips a turn, we are taken back when it hits. So rather than enjoying the beauty and slowing that winter brings, we shift our attention to what we can’t control – the weather – and the complaining ensues.

Abby and Sasha had the appropriate response to the snow this morning. They leaped, created new paths and chased each other, rolling in delight. They saw the gift immediately.

Happy Thanksgiving and may you be grateful each day for your blessings that are hiding right in front of you. Slow down and go make some snow angels.

“To be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring.” – George Santayana

What God Says…

“After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.” – 1 Kings 19:12

In the past few weeks, we’ve had unseasonably warm temperatures so all of the November snow has melted. This week, the weather people have been showing off all of their computer weather models and predicting with confidence and certainty that we will have a “brown” Christmas which apparently happens 70 percent of the time. Lots of pining and consternation amidst the hurry and hustle of what is meant to be a season of reflection, anticipation and joy.

When letting the dogs out this morning, I was surprised by a beautiful fresh coat of snow, laying quietly on the ground. And, yet again, God enters softly and says something much different than our chatter. Reminding us for the 499th time (only an estimate, probably higher, should check a computer model to be sure) of who’s really driving. And if we would let go of the wheel that we are gripping oh so tightly, we might enjoy the ride.

“All of nature begins to whisper its secrets to us through its sounds. Sounds that were previously incomprehensible to our soul now become the meaningful language of nature.” – Rudolf Steiner

“All of nature begins to whisper its secrets to us through its sounds. Sounds that were previously incomprehensible to our soul now become the meaningful language of nature.” – Rudolf Steiner

On this eve of Christmas eve and in every ordinary day, God is present waiting patiently to be found by us. And when we are spinning like a top going nowhere, He whispers with a fresh coat of snow making the world and all in it new again.

He has already claimed us unconditionally. And when we stop putting conditions, rules and judgment on our life, we come alive. So with moments to spare, what God says has the final say. As it should. Merry White Christmas.

Make Room at the Inn

“God seeks to influence humanity. This is at the heart of the Christmas story. It is the story of light coming into the darkness, of a Savior to show us the way, of light overcoming the darkness, of God’s work to save the world.” – Adam Hamilton

We fill our days with busy and often little substance in the pursuit of whatever. We have no room left for awe and holy to enter. Christmas invites us to wait, anticipate and prepare for the most sacred birth, for us to be reborn to possibility, hope and joy.

There was no room at the Inn so Jesus was born in a barn. The beginning of His life started with rejection and love still entered ever so bright. And the end of His life on this earth was the most unimaginable and unfathomable. Both His birth and death were to save us, even in this very moment.

So if your “Inn” is filled with loss, regret, unforgiveness, loneliness, make room for Christ to enter this week and to remain during the ordinary days ahead. Create some room in your heart and let it be filled with light and love.

“Maybe Christmas, the Grinch thought, doesn’t come from a store.” – Dr. Seuss

“People are like stained – glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.” – Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Soft Sweet Light

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

There are certain days that it doesn’t feel like earth is crammed with heaven. Many days, we are reminded of loss. If not our own, others. Death of a sister, a dad, a grandma this past two weeks. It’s been a year and a half and not a day goes by that I don’t miss Dad. And loss grows heartfelt empathy for others when they enter where you’ve been.

And at the same time, others are experiencing great joy. The innocent child-like anticipation of Christmas. And there in lies the essence of life – the weaving of struggle and delight, loss and gain. A pendulum of sorts.

The passing of time brings a certain acceptance and perhaps even a bit of peace. And in the loss, we gain a new appreciation for the moment, for forgiveness, for letting go, for loving without condition. Even in the dark, light remains constant, ready to slowly pull us back into the earth that is crammed with heaven when we are ready to re-enter.

So as Christmas is at our doorstep again, be light for those who are amidst loss and grief. Show them that even in the struggle, joy can and must co-exist so it can lead us back to our new normal, to our next self. Be the window to a bit of heaven for another.

“Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.” – Norman Vincent Peale

“Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.” – Norman Vincent Peale

Advent

“To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.” – Mary Oliver

Advent, the season of waiting, of anticipation, of long moments leading up to promises fulfilled. Slow down this busy season and engage in the waiting, grow your depth of patience and attention. In the waiting, we hear our own voice. In the waiting, silence fills the void with answers to be heeded.

Nature knows how to wait, to rest, to furl, to follow, to lead, to flow with the seasons. Find pockets of quiet and solitude each day so the fullness of each moment can unfold as the noise subsides. And the most precious sacred gift of awe is opened.

“Nature is ever at work building and pulling down, creating and destroying, keeping everything whirling and flowing, allowing no rest but in rhythmical motion, chasing everything in endless song out of one beautiful form into another.” – John Muir

“Nature is ever at work building and pulling down, creating and destroying, keeping everything whirling and flowing, allowing no rest but in rhythmical motion, chasing everything in endless song out of one beautiful form into another.” – John Muir

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.

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