“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
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.
“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
“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
“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
“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
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.
“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
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.
“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
“The life that I could still live, I should live, and the thoughts that I could still think, I should think.” – C.G. Jung, The Red Book
It’s never too late…to give forgiveness, to ask forgiveness, to break the silence, to dream, to pursue your dreams, to dance, to give, to laugh, to understand, to be grateful, to stop, to listen, to be heard, to say thank you, to try something new, to let go, to change, to yield, to learn, to play, to love.
It’s never too late, but someday it will be. And we know not the day. Start today, so regret has no place to visit tomorrow.
“Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.” – John Milton
“Your sacred space is where you can find yourself again and again.” – Joseph Campbell
The story of Christmas need not end today. Christmas shows us the very best in us, our capacity for generosity, kindness and love. Carry the spirit forward into each day. And the good news is that we are not alone in the sequel. Joy is found in the name, Emmanuel – God is with us.
“Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel.” – Isaiah 7:14