But for me, winter has an even greater gift to give. It comes when the sky is clear, the sun is brilliant, the trees are bare, and first snow is yet to come. It is the gift of utter clarity. In winter, one can walk into woods that had been opaque with summer growth only a few months earlier and see the trees clearly, singly and together, and see the ground they are rooted in.
A few years ago, my father died. He was more than a good man, and the months following his death were a long, hard winter for me. But in the midst of that ice and loss, I came into a certain clarity that I lacked when he was alive. I saw something that had been concealed when the luxuriance of his love surrounded me—saw how I had relied on him to help me cushion life’s harsher blows. When he could no longer do that, my first thought was, “Now I must do it for myself.” But as time went on, I saw a deeper truth: it never was my father absorbing those blows but a larger and deeper grace that he taught me to rely on. Continue reading “The Winters Will Drive You Crazy Until You Learn To Get Out Into Them …”
How beautiful on the mountains
are the feet of those who bring good news,
who proclaim peace,
who bring good tidings,
who proclaim salvation,
who say to Zion,
“Your God reigns!”
Listen! Your watchmen lift up their voices;
together they shout for joy.
When the Lord returns to Zion,
they will see it with their own eyes.
Burst into songs of joy together,
you ruins of Jerusalem,
for the Lord has comforted his people,
he has redeemed Jerusalem.
The Lord will lay bare his holy arm
in the sight of all the nations,
and all the ends of the earth will see
the salvation of our God.
— Isaiah 52:7-10
A movie director would surely begin where Isaiah begins: by concentrating on the feet. Feet, running along a mountain path. Accustomed to such terrain they are practiced, swift, and deft. They are also dirty, dusty, calloused, perhaps even bleeding. What makes them beautiful is the message we hear when the focus widens to the runner’s mouth: good tidings, peace, and good news that God reigns! The message itself, shouted aloud and borne on the mountain air, arrives before the messenger. Continue reading “Believe There Is Good In The World (Christmas Meditation) …”
But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for see — I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people.”
— Luke 1.10
God of fear,
God of the night,
God of the expectation,
You visited shepherds in the night
with songs and sights of joy.
In all of our nights, turn us
towards hope, because
hope might just
keep us alive.
Amen Continue reading “Advent Prayer: Life Itself Is Grace …”
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
— 1 Cor 13:1-7
In Luke’s Gospel, it is the Jewish poor, the shepherds, who first see and recognise this birth as a manifestation of God in their midst. Perhaps this reflects the experience of Luke’s community and its emphasis on Jesus’ outreach to the marginal ones. In Mathew’s Gospel, it’s the Magi, these Gentile outsiders, who see a mysterious star and follow it. They recognise that the promises made to the chosen people are being fulfilled. How unlikely that they would be the ones to see and understand, while others who are much closer to the revelation are indifferent, or even hostile, to it. Continue reading “Advent Meditation: Without Love …”
God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.
— James 4:6
He will rescue the poor when they cry to him;
he will help the oppressed, who have no one to defend them.
He feels pity for the weak and the needy,
and he will rescue them.
He will redeem them from oppression and violence,
for their lives are precious to him.
— Psalm 72:12-14
This is God at work, as God has been at work across the millennia, as God is at work even now – unfolding new narratives with, through, and among particular people who are others, outsiders to the assumed faithful. The good news that God bears through Jesus is concurrently jarring news, infuriating news to the temple stalwarts who push him, rush him out of the city to throw him headlong down the hillside (Luke 4:21-30). The good news is not the narrative they were used to, not what they expected from the living God, who had come once again to break through their calcified ways. Continue reading “Advent Meditation: A New Narrative …”
There is a force within that gives you life. Seek that.
— Rumi from A Garden Beyond Paradise
If you took a blue spruce tree and planted it in the desert, it would obviously perish. How do we forget that we too are living systems, and each of us have unique environments, needs, and conditions within which we flourish or wither?
— Dawna Markova from I Will Not Die an Unlived Life
The Shimmering Hours
… this journey is not
It is not about how far
you can walk
or how fast. Continue reading “Advent Meditation: What Gives You Life …”
There is a story of a woman running away from tigers. She runs and runs and the tigers are getting closer and closer. When she comes to the edge of a cliff, she sees some vines there, so she climbs down and holds on to the vines. Looking down, she sees that there are tigers below her as well. She then notices that a mouse is gnawing away at the vine to which she is clinging. She also sees a beautiful little bunch of strawberries close to her, growing out of a clump of grass. She looks up and she looks down. She looks at the mouse. Then she just takes a strawberry, puts it in her mouth, and enjoys it thoroughly. Tigers above, tigers below. This is actually the predicament that we are always in, in terms of our birth and death. Each moment is just what it is. It might be the only moment of our life; it might be the only strawberry we’ll ever eat. We could get depressed about it, or we could finally appreciate it and delight in the preciousness of every single moment of our life. Continue reading “Advent Meditation: The Preciousness of Every Moment …”