Doe, A Deer – A Female Deer

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As Advent flows into Christmas, I have had the sweet and moving companionship of a doe that rests in the woods just at the edge of my yard. I noticed her one morning and then again one afternoon; eventually, I came to look for her each day. She simply rests, peaceful yet alert seemingly, contemplating my home. Initially, it struck me as a lovely, serendipitous encounter with nature. Eventually, she began to feel much more like a kindred spirit who visits to both offer her spirit to me, and receive my spirit in return. As a spiritual director training in a Franciscan program, I am open to experiencing Spirit in all of creation. This sways me, nurturing the sense that Doe and I share a ‘sense of sorority’ with all of creation and the creator. ‘Praised be You, my Lord with all Your creatures’ – St. Francis of Assisi

It is not the first time on my spiritual journey that I have encountered the deer. On several retreats, deer and I have crossed paths. A quick search on the web reveals that the deer symbolizes: Gentleness; Ability to move through life and obstacles with grace; Being in touch with inner child, innocence; Being sensitive and intuitive; Vigilance, ability to change directions quickly; Magical ability to regenerate, being in touch with life’s mysteries. All in all, a nice assortment of life skills and spiritual literacy! Seeing her, feeling her presence emerges as a natural moment of grace for me. A tiny experience of unity and connection with all around me delivered to me by a doe.

With my new appreciation for the doe in heart, I am able to rest with her as she lingers near me. Perhaps we will welcome Christmas together. All I know is that her presence heightens my awareness – my reverence for nature – draws me into the moment here and now with the divine, and models the patience and perseverance that is Advent. So, as Christmas arrives, my spirit longs to resonate with belonging to the moment when everything fits … and all we hoped for is present – perhaps this is what it is to know the fullness of time“spreading the knowledge of God like a sweet smell everywhere” (2 Corinthians 2:14)

 

 

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Felt With The Heart

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One of the challenges of this season of patient anticipation is reconciling all of the sad and lonely people in the world – not to mention the desperate and suffering, or frightened and alone people in the world- with those who are not. The opposing forces at play all around us in the world can at times overwhelm us. Life is filled with paradoxes that I am far too limited and humble to even attempt to explain or rationalize. So, how do I respond to these concerns in my own life experience as they touch me daily in my work? I try to do small things with as much heart as I can bring to my presence with others.

There is a sense of loving agency particularly close at hand as I seek Christmas. I feel that my life is an enduring Advent of persistent waiting and faith, noticing G*d’s presence and allowing it to draw me forward. But my life is also a continuing Christmas, incarnating divine light through my spirit, my presence and my deeds.  There is a spirit of truth, and wisdom that touch my heart expanding my sense of my participation in everything and, everything’s participation in me.

So, I visit with a patient suffering from long-term illness that will eventually claim his life- it has already crippled him – and I offer him my whole-hearted presence. Sometimes, this means that I am light-hearted and playful drawing him out of himself. Sometimes, this means that I sit with him in an accustomed quiet until he speaks of deeper things. I know – because he tells me regularly – that having the use of his legs again is what he longs for. And he knows – because I regularly tell him – that if I could make that happen I would. And for now, we hold that painful reality in each other’s company. And in the spaces in-between we deepen our friendship and connection – a small yet meaningful truth for both of us. Somehow I know that this deeper truth and wisdom comes from the heart. And it is his heart that holds the promise of wholeness.

I pray that this Christmas his heart will be touched by the promise of incarnating light and that his spirit may help him to truly know that all of the best and most beautiful gifts of being fully alive are felt and nurtured in our capacious hearts. May he feel the enduring, sacred and deep presence of incarnated divine light in his heart!

The very nature of G*d, therefore, is to seek out the deepest possible communion and friendship with every last creature on this earth.    Catherine la Cugna

 

 

 

 

 

Mary’s Fiat

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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.

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 creation – a ‘wonderous act of faith’.

Did Mary know? Did she hold 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?

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!

As a family, we honor this unfolding as we sit together each night and light the advent wreath candles, share a reading, and sit in easy silence together. Our hearts and minds open to the inner Divine which 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. It opens us to wonder, and invites our desire to create. In Hope, we wonder, we seek answers, we risk to become whole … we dare to love!

“Blessed Are You Who Bear the Light” Jan Richardson

Blessed are you

who bear the light

in unbearable times,

who testify

to its endurance

amid the unendurable,

who bear witness

to its persistence

when everything seems

in shadow

and grief.

 

Blessed are you

in whom

the light lives,

in whom

the brightness blazes–

your heart

a chapel,

an altar where

in the deepest night

can be seen

the fire that

shines forth in you

in unaccountable faith

in stubborn hope

in love that illumines

every broken thing it finds.