Discovering the Interior

IMG_3454Stained glass window in one of The Painted Churches in Texas

http://www.klru.org/paintedchurches/

I love every one of The Panted Curches I have visited. As you approach each of them, you see lovely but fairly plain old buildings. But when you open the door and  step inside, your breath is taken away with  color and beauty, each one unique from the others.

I am reminded once again to pay attention, to take the time to stop and look past the exterior of the ordinary.  It may contain a discovery of wonder and beauty.

Contentment

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moss tendrils twine

unharmed by winter wind and ice

needing nothing more

Spanish Moss is very common in our area of the Texas Gulf Coast, and in many  areas of the South. It is not a moss at all, but kin to the pineapple. It needs only the moisture in the air for thriving. A freeze does little damage, so in Spring it comes back and continues to grow.  Ice build up might make it heavy enough to fall to the ground.  But if it does end up grounded, it is not dead. Tossed back to the trees,  it will thrive again.  Thinning it actually helps it grow.

Reminder

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Recently, we had a small pot of Calla Lilies sitting in our kitchen window sill. I loved watching the blooms open, each tinted uniquely in ivory blushed with a bit of rose. I like these little flowers as well as their showier Christmastime companions, poinsettias,

As I packed away so many of the symbols of Christmas with decorations and trees, I was glad to keep plants like these, watering them, watching them grow, and enjoying their  symbolism and stories.  The brilliant red poinsettia has its story – called the “flower of the holy night,” standing for a little girl who wept on her way to church on Christmas Eve because she had no gift to bring. As she knelt on the ground to pray, she saw this lovely plant and gladly took its red beauty into the church as her Christmas gift to the Christ child.

But the calla lily plays a role in the Christian Easter service as a symbol of Jesus’ resurrection. In many paintings and other works of art throughout history, it has also been depicted with the Virgin Mary or Angel of Annunciation, associated with holiness, faith and purity.

I am thankful for little altars in our home where a flower or a rock or a bit of glass is something I can see and touch, reminding me of the sacred in all our ordinary days.

Begin Again

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Author Susan Tweit  mentions hearing her Scottish grandmother repeat a phrase I have seen used in various training programs:  “Begin as you intend to continue.” This is a reminder I am repeating as I cross the threshold for the year 2016.  I will add the word I have chosen for the year – Joyfully.  I choose to focus on  expressing joy in  actions and speech,  with a desire to cause and bring joy. 

I make this decision with intention and purpose as I enter a time of uncertainty and change. I do not depend on circumstance  for reason.  What decisions do you make as you begin new calendar pages? As we take one step, and then another into new experience, may we” pay attention, be astonished, and tell about it.” * We are not alone in the journey.

 

 

*credit to Mary Oliver for these words  Oliver’s approach to poetry is seamless from her approach to life and to faith. One section within the poem “Sometimes” sums up all three.

Instructions for living a life:
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it
.

Star

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Nora places the star on the stable, telling again the Christmas story.  The star is a symbol of the true Light that has come.

In the church year are found Cycles of Light , Cycles of Life and Cycles of Love:

Today, the celebration of Christmas with family in the kitchen and around the table with festive celebrating has changed –  slowing, stopping , savoring.  Standing still in the Light..

The first step to peace is to stand still in the Light….

George Fox (1624 – 1691)

Peace and all good my Friends!

Stirrings

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sit in dark stillness

light one candle

quickening as flame swells

Veni, veni, Emanuel

 

hold a little one high to see

starlights and manger scenes

join her awe and wonder

take joy in her ohs and ahs

sing Silent NIght for a lullaby

 

greet the leapings of your weary heart

welcome stinging tears

images of all Christmases past

while wrapping yourself in present gifts

attend to the stirrings of God.

 

 

 

This is True

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Advent Credo

It is not true that creation and the human family are doomed to destruction and loss—
This is true: For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life;

It is not true that we must accept inhumanity and discrimination, hunger and poverty, death and destruction—
This is true: I have come that they may have life, and that abundantly.

It is not true that violence and hatred should have the last word, and that war and destruction rule forever—
This is true: Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder, his name shall be called wonderful councilor, mighty God, the Everlasting, the Prince of peace.

It is not true that we are simply victims of the powers of evil who seek to rule the world—
This is true: To me is given authority in heaven and on earth, and lo I am with you, even until the end of the world.

It is not true that we have to wait for those who are specially gifted, who are the prophets of the Church before we can be peacemakers—
This is true: I will pour out my spirit on all flesh and your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions and your old men shall have dreams.

It is not true that our hopes for liberation of humankind, of justice, of human dignity of peace are not meant for this earth and for this history—
This is true: The hour comes, and it is now, that the true worshipers shall worship God in spirit and in truth.

So let us enter Advent in hope, even hope against hope. Let us see visions of love and peace and justice. Let us affirm with humility, with joy, with faith, with courage: Jesus Christ—the life of the world.

From Walking on Thorns, by Allan Boesak, Eerdmans, 2004.

After the Star, Following the Light

Hope

 

 

 

 

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This week I wanted to spend time listening to Christmas music, wrapping Christmas gifts and baking Cranberry bread. I did these things, but along with so many others , I struggled, shattered by news of more violence against  innocent people , heartbreaking photos of grief-stricken families, terrified refugees, and the darkness of human hearts without hope and faith and love.

I have this pottery jar on my kitchen window sill.  It has been shaped and fired and given as a gift of love. In deeper, mysterious ways, Advent is expressed hope, shaped and fired and given. In the darkest of times, this hope remains.

To love means loving the unlovable. To forgive means pardoning the unpardonable. Faith means believing the unbelievable. Hope means hoping when everything seems hopeless.
Gilbert K. Chesterton