On the scale of our human history, rituals like putting up Christmas trees, lighting menorahs, reading Hafiz, and baking rice dumplings are new. We, humans, have celebrated the earthly repercussions of our orbit longer than we’ve celebrated virtually anything. Before Christmas and Hanukkah, before monotheism or any other kind of theism, our ancestors were staring up at the stars, trying to gather clues about the changing of the seasons, the passing of time, and what the darkness might bring. The idea of marking the longest, coldest night with the knowledge that the warmth and light is not too far off, that is ancient. And no matter where we’re from, what religion we are, or to what ethnic group we belong, we can be sure that our ancestors, all of our ancestors, contemplated Earth’s place in the universe with awe. For them, it was sacred. And it still can be for us. Even more so because science has brought us a deeper understanding of the mystery and beauty of nature than our ancestors could have ever dreamed. Continue reading “Advent Day 21: Sanctuaries That Emerge From The Magnificent Stream (Winter Solstice) …”
It’s winter and there is smoke from the fires. The square, lighted windows of houses are fogging over. It is a world of elemental attention, of all things working together, listening to what speaks in the blood. Whichever road I follow, I walk in the land of many gods, and they love and eat one another. Walking, I am listening to a deeper way. Suddenly all my ancestors are behind me. Be still, they say. Watch and listen. You are the result of the love of thousands.
— Linda Hogan from Dwellings
Walk, don’t run.
Walk, don’t run. Continue reading “Advent Day 04: Walk, Don’t Run …”
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 …”
You have traveled too fast over false ground;
Now your soul has come to take you back.
Take refuge in your senses, open up
To all the small miracles you rushed through.
—John O’Donohue from To Bless the Space Between Us
The ancient psalmist plucked his strings
and sang a sentence sprung from you:
“Be still and know that I am God”
Be still, my soul, like a winter landscape
which is wrapped in the white prayer shawl
of silent snow fringed with icy threads. Continue reading “Advent Meditation: Take Refuge In Silence …”
Say that you have chosen it.
Say that it was your own hand that
turned out the light, your own mouth that blew out the candle,
your own eyes that closed themselves
against the brightness.
Say it was your doing. Continue reading “Advent Meditation: The Darkness (Winter Solstice) …”
Quiet me within,
Clothe my body in peacefulness,
That your Word
Once again may take flesh –
This time, within me –
As it did in holy Mary,
Long Advent days ago.
— Edward Hays from Prayers for a Planetary Pilgrim
The Growing Edge
Look well to the growing edge! All around us worlds are dying and new worlds are being born; All around us life is dying and life is being born. The fruit ripens on the tree; the roots are silently at work in the darkness of the earth against a time when there shall be new leaves, fresh blossoms, green fruit. Such is the growing edge! … This is the basis of hope in moments of despair, the incentive to carry on when times are out of joint and [people] have lost their reason, the source of confidence when worlds crash and dreams whiten into ash. The birth of the child — life’s most dramatic answer to death — this is the growing edge incarnate. Look well to the growing edge!
— Howard Thurman
The new thing that God seeks often occurs in times of disruption, when the familiar world has collapsed and the future is in doubt, when days grow shorter, and we wonder if darkness will swallow the light. The new thing that is being born in our lives emerges out of the hidden womb and the dark soil. God’s new thing is the vision of “something more,” a hovering possibility that challenges the world as it is. It is the moral arc toward which history bends, filling us with a divine restlessness with the way things are that inspires the quest for what may be if the world embraces God’s vision of Shalom. Continue reading “Advent Meditation: Threshold Of Winter …”
For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people …
— Titus 2:11
Grace call us into a humility that seeks to honor the grace of God to forgive and restore us. Grace calls us into a humility that seeks to honor the multiple relationships throughout our overlapping households or spheres of community. The training power of grace may be its capacity to illumine the image of God in another. We pray for God to give us God’s own love for the other when we recognize that our love is in dire need of grace. Continue reading “Advent Meditation: God Birthed Grace Upon The Earth …”