We Renew Our Be-ing

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Christmas is almost here and rather than fretting last minute gifts, I am mulling the miracle of divine birth. A miracle that the world – when it looks at it at all – sees as a re-enactment of the nativity which is in and of itself a lovely story. Christmas pagents in Christian churches cast adorable children in the roles of the holy family and onlookers appreciate the nativity story anew. I wonder if there aren’t more profound ways to enter the nativity as a participant rather than an onlooker.

A divine gift of love, light, hope, joy and peace arrives in the form of an infant who ruptures all previous understandings of the human relationship to the Creator and invites us into an experience of divine love and co-creation unlike anything we expected or might imagine. Perhaps we are meant to hold this, enter this much more openly, personally and deeply. What if the true meaning of Christmas is to be aware of what G*d is birthing in us? Do we recognize that there are gifts waiting to be given and received in and through us that only we, as a unique creation, can offer? Can we allow Christmas to enter our hearts and give birth to the unique and divine possibilities that evolve? Teilhard de Chardin invites us to look at it from this perspective in this beautiful prayer which seems perfect for entering the mystery of the deeper meaning of Christmas;

“Above all, trust in the slow work of God. We are quite naturally impatient in everything to reach the end without delay. We should like to skip the intermediate stages. We are impatient of being on the way to something unknown, something new. And yet it is the law of all progress that it is made by passing through some stages of instability—and that it may take a very long time. And so I think it is with you; your ideas mature gradually—let them grow, let them shape themselves, without undue haste. Don’t try to force them on, as though you could be today what time (that is to say, grace and circumstance acting on your own good will) will make of you tomorrow. Only God could say what this new spirit gradually forming within you will be. Give Our Lord the benefit of believing that his hand is leading you, and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete.”

 

 

 

 

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Joy

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“Joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God.”

I love this quote from Teilhard de Chardin! It is such a wonderful expression of the fullness of presence as our most available source of connection to the divine. There is an assurance and reassurance that accompanies resting in G*d and surrendering to the eternal longing for connection to all that is. For some, this sense is most present while being in nature, for others it is most present with those they love and for others, it comes through prayer and contemplation. For many, this energy is the basis for service. A true heartfelt, symbiotic sense that it is in giving that we receive and in receiving that we give.

Deep feelings of belonging inform life all around us both quietly and noisily, revealing divine presence. Whether or not we open ourselves to its possibility, our world and existence is replete with opportunities to discover this source of living energy that flows through us with us and in us. It is our choice to find real joy by entering this beautiful mystery of life.

So, this Christmas as I lovingly give and receive gifts, I recognize that it is the moments I will have not the gifts I will keep that bring me the greatest joy. It is the having not the keeping that nourishes me. When I unbind myself and make myself completely present, I enter life as I am meant to and life enters me as it is meant to, and this nourishes my soul.

An Act of Faith

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When I think of faith I think first of my childhood training in the catholic tradition and the act of faith prayer I committed to memory: ‘O my God, I firmly believe that you are one God in three divine Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I believe that your divine Son became man and died for our sins, and that he will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe these and all the truths which the holy Catholic Church teaches, because you have revealed them, who can neither deceive nor be deceived.
 Amen.’   As I matured into womanhood faith was associated with personal prayers, regular church services on Sunday, holidays and when possible throughout lent. Eventually, those encounters became more and more rote and less and less nurturing.

Fortunately, I paid attention to my restlessness and it led me to a deeper spiritual awakening which in turn, led me to an experience of faith in divine love that exceeds my early training and any liturgical experience I have found. My faith is part of an inward journey where I have examined my life; my trials, tribulations, shortcomings and my gifts, capacities and blessings. I have encountered an inner grace that helps me to see that letting go of my ego and creating spaciousness within allows divine light to shine forth. So my faith emerges as my heart’s way of knowing.

Now, as I anticipate the divine light of advent and Christmas, I am in awe of Mary’s fiat – her self-emptying, egoless ‘yes’. I see her humility as a beautiful gift to the world and her act of faith as a young woman holding divine mystery – a manifestation of divine co-creation, and Love. Mary, truly full of grace, follows her heart’s way of knowing, at no small personal cost then, and of course, later. She wholly/holy surrenders to divine will – and that ‘wonderous act of faith’ redeems all.

Formed beneath her beating heart she knows him inside out unlike any other way of knowing. She receives him in all love and compassion.She nurtures and supports him to become his particular self in ways she ‘knows’ deep within her, ways that are sacred and deep.

Did Mary know the quiet confidence that all would be well? Did she listen to her secret heart? Did motherhood deepen her sense of her own miraculous be-ing? I hope that her act of faith brought her these graces and more. Could she have possibly known that all that dwelled within her would blossom into a future graced with love -a love that would redeem the world?

It is Mary’s act of faith that redeems the world, all of us, me – still. That is what faith in advent evokes in me now. Nothing can truly prepare me for this act of Love so profound in its sacred simplicity – its egoless spaciousness – it fully opens the hearts of all who receive it. Mary’s stunning act of faith.

Hope Never Stops – At All

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During this first week of advent, my family and I pause each day to reflect on all that approaches. These daily pauses encourage in us a disposition of silence, stillness and reverence during this sacred and yet hectic and crowded season. It is our intention to appreciate the divine in silence and stillness; beauty and splendor; inner preparation and waiting; Light; and our own becoming as we unfold toward Christmas and Incarnation.

The winter season shifts – morning, day, dusk, and evening each reminds us of life as sacramental. Life extends toward us the gifts of this moment as we join the rhythm of the universe ebbing and flowing. This rhythm draws us to itself, reminding us that time is not linear- taking us from here to there-; time is a spiral, moving us in cycles of renewal, growth, release, and tranquility.

We commemorate this unfolding with our advent wreath and candles. We sit together each night and light the week’s candle as we share a reading and sit in easy silence together. Just now, we enter the advent season opening our Hearts and Minds to divine Hope.

The advent story reminds us that hope is a very real force that can change our lives for the better and the world around us. Hope inspires us with notions of possibility. Hope opens our minds to wonder and invites our desire to create. In hope, we wonder, we seek answers, we risk to become, we dare to love.

“Hope” is the thing with feathers


That perches in the soul


And sings the tune without the words


And never stops—at all”  

~Emily Dickinson~