One of the benefits in getting up at 5:30, is that regardless of all the holiday activities, my solitary morning prayer time is never compromised. Very few people get up that early, and if they do, they are into their own meditation ritual. Activities or parties start after a big late morning breakfast, so no interruption there.
This season my prayer time has been more heartrending, more necessary, and more powerful than ever. As my faith grows, so does my desire to be with God and to ask for and receive God’s guidance. I’m still amazed at how each morning God’s presence returns to me, to the mind of my heart. Of course during the day I let it fly away. It disappears, but less often and for shorter lengths of time, so it seems.
Written Christmas Eve.
December 24th. Family has arrived. We have eaten comfort chicken soup and apple pie. The dishes are done, presents wrapped. We have retreated to our resting places. All is calm, perhaps like it was in the stable after Jesus was born but before the arrival of the shepherds and wise men.
I have memories of many Christmases and tonight I miss family members. But I’m content with the solitude after the social time with those who could make it this year. In fact, I wonder if I’ve ever experienced such genuine Christmas solitude before? Regardless, like every year, this is turning out to be the best Christmas ever.
Every year of life waxes and wanes. Every stage of life comes and goes. Every facet of life is born and then dies. Every good moment is doomed to become only a memory. Every perfect period of living slips through our fingers and disappears. Every hope dims and every possibility turns eventually to dry clay. Until Christmas comes again. Then we are called at the deepest, most subconscious, least cognizant level to begin once more to live newly again.
Christmas brings us all back to the crib of life to start over: aware of what has gone before, conscious that nothing can last, but full of hope that this time, finally, we can learn what it takes to live well, grow to full stature of soul and spirit, get it right.
There is a child in each of us waiting to be born again. It is to those looking for life that the figure of the Christ, a child, beckons. Christmas is not for children. It is for those who refuse to give up and grow old, for those to whom life comes newly and with purpose each and every day, for those who can let yesterday go so that life can be full of new possibility always, for those who are agitated with newness whatever their age. Life is for the living, for those in whom Christmas is a feast without finish, a celebration of change, a call to begin once more the journey to human joy and holy meaning.
Joan Chittister from In Search of Belief
Here is what I experienced about forgiveness the other day. I had made a negative/judgmental comment about someone. Not really bad but let me just say that it didn’t make it through ‘the three sieves’—Is it kind? Is it true? Is it necessary?. Oh, it may have been true and it really wasn’t unkind, but it definitely wasn’t necessary. So what’s the big deal? I asked myself. Well, the big deal was that it didn’t sit right with me; I kept thinking about it; I couldn’t let it go.
As you know, I’m always trying to relieve the burdens and guilt that pop up in my life, and I’m always willing to try a new approach. So I decided to talk it through with God.. First I told the truth about it to myself. Then I confessed it all to God, and asked God’s forgiveness. Voila, the big deal lifted. It didn’t go away. I still think about it, not as guilt, but as a lesson learned.
Maybe I’m beginning to discern what “O Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” might mean, at least on a personal level.
Yesterday, shoveling was easy, sun was out, gorgeous moonrise. Today, wifi is working. Easy to start the day with these gratitudes. But is it always easy? Sometimes I have to search. And what about all those mornings when I forget to be grateful, or worse still, forget about God all together? I hate to admit that sometimes I’m so swept up in the everydayness of life that all that I see is ME. Ugh.
Advent is a time of waiting. In myriad ways scripture asks, “What are you waiting for?” My answer: “God in my heart.” Remembering to start the day with gratitude, gives God a opening to enter. It’s easier to do this here at the cottage, sitting on the deck watching the sunrise. Harder at home amidst the busyness of life; but that’s no excuse. There is time, there is always time, God time.
I’m having trouble with my wifi connection here at the cottage. It comes and goes. It’s weak connection at its best; at its worst, it doesn’t exist. Okay, I admit that I have prayed for the situation to improve, even while knowing, of course, that it holds none of the power of those prayers for folks who are really in trouble.
So, why do I blurt my problem out to God? Let me repeat; there is no denying the fact that on a basic level, I want the connection to improve! But more than that, I talk with God all the time, so why not about this? Ah, and as we chat away I find myself asking for patience and to give up my foolish self-importance. I find myself questioning what I might glean from this inconvenience and what might change for the good because of it.
At now, at this very moment, Im wondering who is leading our conversation, God or me? Probably both of us.
Here’s a slideshow of the photos I took on my walk last week. In some form or other I’ve posted all of them before, and yet, each picture is always different because the moment is different. As I walk I say the Jesus Prayer; Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me. Behind those words is my prayer that I will be less judgmental, more loving.
Love is all God asks of us. Sounds simple; but I sure need help in this regard. Walking and praying moves me forward.
I haven’t seen the lady in red, as I call her, since that first encounter a couple of days ago on my walk. I keep looking and praying for her. Although I felt okay about my response, I have been wondering where I am on the good Samaritan continuum—somewhere in the middle, not able to claim priest or Levite nor good Samaritan status.
Regardless, Jesus’ parable give me much to ponder. I definitely had some excellent reasons not to get involved with the woman, but I didn’t cross to the other side, either; I didn’t ignore her. I had some acceptable Samaritan tendencies, but I didn’t take her to to the inn. My involvement was a smile and prayer, which is to me is mighty powerful. But was it enough all by itself? The answer is, “Yes and No.”
This story isn’t over for me.
The other morning, while walking along the sidewalk to the beach, I passed a women who was shuffling along. As she turned to look at me I saw the saddest face. More than that, a face of despair. She look right at me as though she recognized me and was trying to come up with my name.
I blurted out, “I don’t think I know you.” She tried to respond but all that came out was a silent expression of grief.
I put my hands together and said, “I will pray for you.” She nodded in relief, and I went on my way.
What a moment! Christ was present in this woman; Christ was present in me; Christ was present between us. I didn’t feel I should stop, hear her the story, get more involved. But I have prayer for her and will continue to do so. Her ‘name’ written in my prayer book.