Thursday, December 30, 2010

Joy and Possibility

Advent is waiting.
The wait can take on a slew of varied approaches for people.
The days off from work or school are a sweet "finally!" for many.
We anticipate quality time with family and friends.
Maybe we are still waiting for that Norman Rockwell conflict-free family Christmas. (If it's any consolation, the birth stories themselves contain lots of conflict.)
For Christians, it was four weeks of preparing for the birth of Jesus by considering Hope, Peace, Love and Joy.
Finally, commercial Christmas crescendos on the 25th.
And now, the advertising that accompanied Advent and the waiting to see what Santa brought is over. What now?

Well…Christmas is about joy and possibility.
Blessed with loved ones, it's a joyous celebration of the birth of Jesus.
But further, the Prince of Peace comes to remind us of the possibility of what love can do. Christmas is our opportunity to bring the long-ago event into the present.
Maybe it's no wonder that New Years follows on the heels of Christmas.
On the days after Christmas - the first days of the rest of our lives - we can turn the page on the calendar. Start fresh of sorts. Maybe turn a few Bible pages to keep up with the story. Or turn to a more loving response in our most challenging relationships. It's time to turn and focus on different kinds of returns and exchanges.

The perfect New Years resolution finds its seeds in the Christmas message. The simple yet elusive challenge to be loving always.

I wish you many blessings in the New Year.
Peace & love.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Let This Darkness Be a Bell Tower

Only days after Thanksgiving 2010, I am celebrating the 2-year anniversary of my Whipple procedure – the surgery that removed the tumor from my gut. Hallelujah!
It is only by God's grace that I am allowed to continue to give thanks. He asks a lot in return but that seems more than fair to me. I struggle joyously with that ask each day. We all struggle, but never alone.
I try to flow. I try to ring. I try to speak. I try to be.
Here's a poem that spoke to me.

"Let This Darkness Be a Bell Tower" by Rainer Maria Rilke
Quiet friend who has come so far,
feel how your breathing makes more space around you.
Let this darkness be a bell tower
and you the bell. As you ring,

what batters you becomes your strength.
Move back and forth into the change.
What is it like, such intensity of pain?
If the drink is bitter, turn yourself to wine.

In this uncontainable night,
be the mystery at the crossroads of your senses,
the meaning discovered there.

And if the world has ceased to hear you,
say to the silent earth: I flow.
To the rushing water, speak: I am