Fa la la la la not.

Shhhh! It’s sleeping.

I’m not ready. The turkey soup is not made yet. I haven’t found time to clean the house and decorate. I come home from work to fix dinner, do my charting and then FLOP. The idea of wrestling down boxes and bins is unappealing, to say the least.

But I’m just not ready to put up the tree and all the lights.

I’m not ready to find the crèches and the stockings for display.

I’m especially not ready for every nasal, scoop-noted pop star butchering carols on store Muzak everywhere. (There oughta be a law…)

I’m not ready. I’m tired. And just a little bit grumpy.

So, Lord, prepare my heart. Make the rough places smooth. Ease the darker moments with filtered-down Light. Send Your Love. Send your Peace. And lift my eyes to see the Joy of Heaven.

Allelu. Amen.

Cross-posted: Advent Longings

This prayer is shared from the RevGals page.

IMG_0303

Lord,
in the quiet
in the waiting
in the promises of Old
we see You.

Our hearts are touched
Just brushed
with a promise of more…
Longing
waiting
seeking
caring
carrying
lifting us beyond
the anger of the moment
the worries for tomorrow.

Your hope renews us
with the promise of more
of life
of hope
of grace
of the Christ Child
Born
for us again.
Amen.

And Amen.

Blue Christmas


Diana Butler Bass writes in a recent article in the Washington Post about the emotional stress that has filled the days and weeks since the Presidential election. Not just stress from who won or lost, but the increase of uncivil behavior towards one another. 

It’s wearying to the mind and the Spirit. 

(I’m not immune to the fits of snarkyness on Twitter. But I have not threatened anyone’s personal safety or denigrated their faith.)

Diana writes: 

“Advent recognizes a profound spiritual truth — that we need not fear the dark. Instead, wait there. Under that blue cope of heaven, alert for the signs of dawn. Watch. For you cannot rush the night. But you can light some candles. Sing some songs. Recite poetry. Say prayers.”

So for Advent this year I am going to Watch for the Light. I will be posting photos on Instagram (@HolySpoons) and will occasionally write here on my blog about the places and scenes which give me glimpses of God in this Advent season.

You can join me in this exercise. The liturgical season of Advent begins tomorrow, November 27th. Let’s find those points where God breaks through and use them to encourage one another.

Pax vobiscum.

CHRISTMAS LABYRINTH: A complete how-to

labyrinthlights

During the last three Advent seasons, I have led a “Blue Christmas” service. Also called “The Longest Night” service, it is a contemplative, reflective service meant to bring a space of quiet worship into the frantic Advent season.

This year we repeated one of our most asked-for activities, a labyrinth made of Christmas lights. In the softly-lit room, with background music playing, it became an ethereal, other-worldly moment. One participant described it as the “space of beauty and peace” that was needed in the midst of a job transition, moving, and medical challenges.

The instructions are simple as long as you understand basic geometry. Here is a set of complete directions. 

1. locate center of room

2. Around center make 4 concentric circles 3′ apart. (with radii of 3′, then 6′, then 9′, then 12′)

3. Measure a string which, when relaxed and not under tension, measures 12′. Secure it to the center point. Use pieces of tape or knots to mark 3′ intervals along the string. (We used yarn)

4. Using the string as a radius, place pieces of tape on the ground every few feet along the circumferences of the circles, as marked out by the pieces of tape on the string-radius

5. Goal: Divide the circle into three equal sections. Steps: locate the desired entrance point to the labyrinth (point A). Locate the point opposite it on the circle (point B), aka the other end of the diameter from point A. Affix one end of the radius to point B. Lay out the radius-string and swing it around, marking the two places where it hits the circumference (C and D). This will roughly divide the circle into thirds.

6. Next, the fun part: laying out the lights. Mark the left edge of the entrance to the labyrinth by measuring 4.5′ to the left of A, creating point E. Plug in the lights and roll out the lights from point E towards the circumference of circle 2, and along the circumference clockwise until the lights intersect line DF (the radius marking the third at pt D). Double back the lights along their path until it gets to point E. Then follow the circumference of circle 4 clockwise, until you reach point C on the circumference. Follow line CF until it intersects circle 2. Follow circle 2 counterclockwise until you are 3′ (aka the pathway’s breadth away from line CD). Double back to follow circle 2 clockwise until you come to a point 3′ away from AF. (Measure this by measuring a 3′ line perpendicular to AF or DF, with one end on the radius and the other on the circumference of circle 2). 

7. Remember to tape down your lights as you go! Continue to follow the path of the labyrinth in this manner. We wouldn’t want to deprive you of the joy of discovery!
 

Win a few, miss a few

Yes indeed. I had grand plans to do a Photo-a-Day on my blog during Advent. I came up with my own list… and I did not make that happen. I did get most posted on Facebook in a private forum, but blogging just… didn’t… happen.

Since Advent started, I have recovered from a lovely GI bug that flattened me over Thanksgiving, and then came down with a case of strep two weeks before Christmas. Suddenly it was the week before Christmas. I had 12 patients to see in 2 days (plus a team meeting). Plus documentation and phone calls. Plus emotionally processing some heavy duty ..uhhh… stuff in people’s lives I care about deeply. On top of all that, the escalating gun violence, political vitriol, and a few interpersonal pressures knocked me down flat.

It sucked.

The house was not cleaned. The shopping was not at the level I prefer to do. And I simply wasn’t vested enough in the Christmas Spirit to do all of the decorating. And the tree? While we managed to put it up during Thanksgiving weekend, I did not get around to decorating it. 2015treeFor the record, we finished that task this morning.

Yes. Christmas morning. So fire me, Martha Stewart! You win a few, you miss a few.

My favorite Wise Woman and Spiritual Director helped me give myself “permission” to let things slide. To just enjoy what happened and not insist that I finish what I started. I did not go there quietly.

The bins and boxes of decorations sat in the living room for the entire month of December. No lie. We just moved them out of the way this morning to make room for presents. I just didn’t have time (or brain power) to complete my grand plans. I bought a ham for Christmas dinner and then failed to think up a complete menu!

Sometimes, life is just like that. For whatever reason, you can’t rise above the circumstances you are living through. Whatever the difficulty may be, it takes more emotional energy than you have in your possession to make things happChristmasJason.jpgen.

Guess what? Cookies still got baked. Presents were found and wrapped (after a fashion). We have a lovely dinner this evening with the combined talents of several wonderful cooks. There was lots of precious time spent with my husband and lovely daughters, and the ones they care about the most. Cats were loved on and spoiled. Most important of all, the birth of Jesus is being celebrated. God’s grace is in my life and in my heart.

I think I’m blessed. Beyond words…

Merry Christmas from all of us!

 

 

Photo-a-day: Joy

I love to sit and watch the birds from the vantage point of our dining room. The bay window offers a view of the bird bath, garden and fish pond. Many days in the spring and summer months, there was a long line of birds dropping by to use the bird bath.

Every time a bird hopped in the water, it looked like they are having a party. Dip. Flutter. Splash! (Repeat.)

It looked like full-fledged Joy to me!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

As I write this, I am in the midst of some kind of bronchitis or bad cold. I feel rotten. In fact, I’d like nothing better than to ditch the virus and be back to 100%. (It IS December. There’s a boatload to do, both at work and at home!) But instead, I rest and nap and remember that I am beloved and cared for by God.

That’s joy. To know, deep down, that every moment is in God’s hands, every event is known and in God’s control. To have that sense of delight and well-being.

Brushing up on my rusty Greek, the word for joy, χαρά or chara, is related to xáris (charis), grace. Doesn’t that make sense? The very nature of Joy is wrapped in the gift of Grace. In this season of Advent, I think on the promised gift of Grace, born in human form in the Christ Child.

That’s why, even in this moment of feeling on the puny side, I can still listen and sing — with joy!

This gift of God we cherish well
That ever by our hearts shall fill
How great our joy
(Great our joy)
Joy, joy, joy
(Joy, joy, joy)
Praise we the Lord in Heaven on high
Praise we the Lord in Heaven on high

from How Great our Joy