Hope (Advent Meditation) …

Because when all is said and done,
the last word is Immanuel — God With Us.
— Isaiah 8:10, The Message

 

Hope and Fear cannot occupy the same space at the same time. Invite one to stay. Invite one to stay.
— Maya Angelou from Sacred Threshold by Paula D’Arcy

 

A Pilgrimage of Discovery

There are no manuals for the construction of the individual you would like to become. You are the only one who can decide this and take up the lifetime of work that it demands. This is a wonderful privilege and such an exciting adventure. To grow into the person that your deepest longing desires is a great blessing. If you can find a creative harmony between your soul and your life, you will have found something infinitely precious. You may not be able to do much about the great problems of the world or to change the situation you are in, but if you can awaken the eternal beauty and light of your soul, you will bring light wherever you go. The gift of life is given to us for ourselves and also to bring peace, courage, and compassion to others.
— John O’Donohue from Eternal Echoes

 

Even a wounded world is feeding us. Even a wounded world holds us, giving us moments of wonder and joy. I choose joy over despair. Not because I have my head in the sand, but because joy is what the earth gives me daily and I must return the gift.
― Robin Wall Kimmerer from Braiding Sweetgrass

 

Stopping The Noise

Often we’re cast about by the noise of the world and the noise in our heads. Often we’re mesmerized by the stunning cacophony that masks itself as excitement. And though there’s much to be gained for being in the world, we can’t make sense of it till we stop the noise, till we go below the noise, till we go below the habit of our own thoughts. But it’s impossible to be still and quiet all the time. As a whale or dolphin must break surface, only to dive back down, only to break surface again, each of us must break surface into the noise of the world, only to rest our way back into the depth of stillness, where we can know ourselves and life more deeply, until we have to break surface again. No one is ever done with this crossover between noise and stillness. Not even those committed to a contemplative life. Not even those who are blind or mute. For the noise of the mind never dies. It can only be put in perspective, quieted until we can hear the more ancient voices that give us life. At every turn, we need to stop the noise, our own and everyone else’s, not to retreat from the world but to live more fully in it.

― Mark Nepo from Things That Join the Sea and the Sky

 

And as with prayer, which is a dipping of oneself toward the light, there is a consequence of attentiveness to the grass itself, and the sky itself, and to the floating bird. I too leave the fret and enclosure of my own life. I too dip myself toward the immeasurable.

— Mary Oliver from Winter Hours

 

Even In Darkness It Is Possible To Create Light

I belong to a generation that has often felt abandoned by God and betrayed by mankind. And yet, I believe that we must not give up on either.

Was it yesterday – or long ago – that we learned how human beings have been able to attain perfection in cruelty? That for the killers, the torturers, it is normal, thus human, to act inhumanely?

The answer, of course, is up to each of us. We must choose between the violence of adults and the smiles of children, between the ugliness of hate and the will to oppose it. Between inflicting suffering and humiliation on our fellow man and offering him the solidarity and hope he deserves. Or not.

I know – I speak from experience – that even in darkness it is possible to create light and encourage compassion. That it is possible to feel free inside a prison. That even in exile, friendship exists and can become an anchor.
— Elie Wiesel from Open Heart

 

Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it. My optimism, then, does not rest on the absence of evil, but on a glad belief in the preponderance of good and a willing effort always to cooperate with the good, that it may prevail. I try to increase the power God has given me to see the best in everything and every one, and make that Best a part of my life.

— Helen Keller from Optimism

 

Winter Apple

Let the apple ripen
on the branch
beyond your need
to take it down.

Let the coolness
of autumn
and the breathing,
blowing wind
test its adherence
to endurance,
let the others fall.

Wait longer
than you would,
go against yourself,
find the pale nobility
of quiet that ripening
demands…

let winter come
and the first
frost threaten,
and then wake
one morning
to see the breath
of winter
has haloed
its redness
with light

So that a full
two months
after you
should have
taken the apple
down
you hold it in
your closed hand
at last and bite
into the cool
sweetness
spread evenly
through every
single atom
of a pale
and yielding
structure,
so that you taste
on that cold,
grey day,
not only
the after reward
of a patience
remembered,
not only
the summer
sunlight
of a postponed
perfection,
but the sweet,
inward stillness
of the wait itself.

— David Whyte from Pilgrim

 

Hope, like every virtue, is a choice that becomes a practice that becomes spiritual muscle memory. It’s a renewable resource for moving through life as it is, not as we wish it to be.
— Krista Tippett from Becoming Wise 

 

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