Contemplatives and ascetics of every age and every religion have always sought God in the silence and solitude of deserts, forests and mountains. Jesus himself lived for forty days in complete solitude, spending long hours in intimate converse with the Father in the silence of the night.
Advent is a time of preparation for the celebration of Christmas. The term is an anglicized version of the Latin word adventus, meaning “coming”. It begins four Sundays before Christmas and ends on Christmas Eve, thus there is some variation in its length.
Advent is traditionally a season of expectation and hope. And yet, it often gets overlooked as an important part of Christmas in the flurry that leads up to it. Preparing for Christmas is just as important as celebrating it. Here are some simple and easy ways to recognizing Advent as a separate and cherished season as you prepare for Christmas.
Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.
— Greg Anderson
Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.
— Melody Beattie
later that night
i held an atlas in my lap
ran my fingers across the whole world
where does it hurt? Continue reading
But what we do know, from our own experience and the experience of history, is that photographs can change the course of things, turn one’s head, alter one’s thoughts, enlighten one’s darkness. To shoot with that awareness, to know our images, made of light, can contribute light—that is the true joy of photography. Continue reading
Recently, I walked a labyrinth. There are many ways to walk a labyrinth. One can walk it in silent meditation, attentive to each step and breath. One can walk a labyrinth while praying a specific prayer or recalling one’s life journey. This time, as I entered the path, I felt called to pray God’s names on the way into the center, one name for each step. There are many Biblical names for God. For example, Psalm 62 names God as “rock” and “fortress.” The Gospel according to Luke describes God as a “mother hen” who is sheltering her chicks beneath her wings (13:34). As I took each step, I allowed another name for God to rise up to the surface: Redeemer, Savior, Lover, My Rock, Faithful Friend, Shield, Teacher, Spouse, Light in Darkness, Divine Gardener. Sometimes I’d repeat a name I’d already prayed, and sometimes I’d discover a new one, e.g., Heart of my Heart. Praying as I walked, I was reminded of how many ways God had been present to me in the course of my life. Continue reading
The leaves are falling, falling as if from far up,
as if orchards were dying high in space.
Each leaf falls as if it were motioning “no.”
And tonight the heavy earth is falling
away from all other stars in the loneliness.
We’re all falling. This hand here is falling.
And look at the other one. It’s in them all.
And yet there is Someone, whose hands
infinitely calm, holding up all this falling.
— Rainer Maria Rilke from A Year with Rilke
People who have come to know the joy of God do not deny the darkness, but they choose not to live in it. They claim that the light that shines in the darkness can be trusted more than the darkness itself and that a little bit of light can dispel a lot of darkness. They point each other to flashes of light here and there, and remind each other that they reveal the hidden but real presence of God. Continue reading