Ending to Begin Again

IMG_1885Here at the end of the year comes the year’s springing

The falling and melting snow meet in the stream’

That flows with living waters and cleanses the dream.

The reed bends and endures and sees the dove’s winging.’En


Move into the year and the new time’s turning

Open and vulnerable and loving and steady

The stars are aflame; creation is ready.

The day is at hand. The bright sun burns.

Madeleine L’Engle, as quoted in Winter Song, Christmas Readings

By Madeleine L’Engle and Luci Shaw




Little Ones

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The Littlest Shepherd…

There is so much about Christmas days that involves children. In A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens  wrote “it is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its mighty Founder was a child himself.”  

In the singing and ringing, the laughing, standing-on-tiptoe, eyes sparkling joy of children, we experience fresh joy ourselves. Each year when our boys were young, our family began and continued traditions that were then and still are important to all of us.  I love seeing many of those being carried into their own homes today. This is little Nora’s first Christmas. She delights in  the sights and smells and sounds, and trusts her parents, her grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins as we hold her and share this beauty. She does not expect it all, but she experiences it, learning and laughing. Trusting because she feels our love and care.

When I read the gospel message that we are to become like little children, I think of that quality of childlike trust.  I want to experience all of Christmas like Nora – laughing, learning, trusting.





Gifts are a part of our days before and after Christmas, both the ones that are chosen to give, wrapped with a bow – and the ones that we can’t hold in our hands, only our hearts.  Come to think of it, even the ones that do come gift-wrapped are ones we hold in our hearts if they come to carry messages of love and caring.

The stones in this photo carry messages of the gifts offered in the birth of Christ. They are prayer stones that I keep in a basket on my porch and I often use them as touch reminders of God’s gifts that I need.  The top photo was made some years ago.  The picture below is the stones today. As often happens when I photograph something, surprising truth shows up when I look closely. Some stones obviously show more wear than others. I don’t doubt that the most worn stones reflect my past year’s need and requests. As you can see, Patience, Hope, and Peace have often been in my prayers.  Courage and Strength show wear as well. The stones may gain refreshing from a Sharpie, but the gifts themselves are always clear, always there. I am thankful for all of them.




Unexpected Discovery



One of my granddaughters likes to leave me little surprises in unexpected places that I find after she has left. Once it was a bright blue ribbon tied on the spiral binding of one of my cookbooks.  Another time she left a small rose from their dressup trunk The rose was perched on the crosspiece underneath a wicker rocker in the room where she sleeps when she is visiting. How long did it take you to be surprised to find a candy cane hooked over Joseph’s arm in our mantel Nativity?

When I find these unexpected signs Maddie leaves for me, I laugh and reach for my gift. In these days following Christmas, I also find joy in gifts that tell me again that God is with me – a brilliant sunset on Christmas Day,the scarlet flash of a cardinal on a bare tree limb, memories of all the ways He has come to me in the past.  I want to pay attention so I don’t miss the signs.  I want to reach for the gift.

Standing Still in the Light

  • IMG_1514The first step to peace is to stand still in the light. ~ George Fox


There is a hush in the house that is different in quality this morning, after yesterday’s gathering for Christmas Day.  Before I go back to the kitchen to finish cleanup from our festive meal, before I make a grocery list to ready for our other children and grandchildren who arrive this week, even before I sit down at the piano to enjoy playing the old carols again just for Joe and me, I claim moments  of this quiet to sit in the dark with only the twinkling tree lights and be still.  I hear again in my mind the words of the song often heard sung around the world at this time of year. “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.?






He did not wait till the world was ready,

til men and nations were at peace.

He came when the Heavens were unsteady,

and prisoners cried out for release.


He did not wait for the perfect time.

He came when the need was deep and great.

He dined with sinners in all their grime,

turned water into wine. He did not wait


till hearts were pure. In joy he came

to a tarnished world of sin and doubt.

To a world like ours, of anguished shame

he came, and his Light would not go out.


He came to a world which did not mesh,

to heal its tangles, shield its scorn.

In the mystery of the Word made Flesh

the Maker of the stars was born.


We cannot wait til the world is sane

to raise our songs with joyful voice,

for to share our grief, to touch our pain,

He came with Love: Rejoice! Rejoice!!


Madeleine L’Engle. as quoted in Winter Song, Christmas Readings

by Luci Shaw and Madeleine L’Engle


Christmas Eve: Relationship

The final figure has been hung in my Advent shadow box. In our Nativity scenes, the manger holds a baby. It is Christmas Eve, the time of laboring, receiving.  As waiting and expectancy end, the intense work so aptly named labor begins, the urgency of a baby’s entrance into our world gives way to embrace. With the birth of our granddaughter this year so fresh in my mind, I think of holding her minutes after birth.  So small and precious in my arms, so helpless, yet holdiing such power over my heart. In the hush of those moments, relationship locked and sealed forever. Relationship that began the moment I heard of her coming, that grew so sweetly when I saw ultrasound images, became one that will endure past physical life.

It is in that way Christ came to us. In that picture of receiving Him that we see God’s intention for relationship. We don’t just know he is coming . We welcome Him into our hearts.


IMG_1479This Nativity belongs to our youngest son. He first set it up when he was very small. As a boy, he built the little shed from scraps of wood shingles.  Now it sits in his own home, where his daughter holds the figures as she discovers her very first Christmas.




100_1877Selamat Datang

This bamboo nativity is one we got when we lived in Indonesia , along with the chest beneath it. If I titled today’s post Selamat Datang, many of you would not recognize the greeting, but if I smiled, spoke the words, and held out my arms, you would receive the message. Whether the creche is made of bamboo, or wood, or carved in stone, or simply made of sticks, we recognize its meaning because of the posture of the figures and their arrangement.  Christ’s coming broke down the walls that separate us, the barriers of difference and indifference, the stones in our path to God and to each other.  As we welcome Him, we learn a language that goes beyond speech.  We are offered a language of love.

Rekindling the Light

Solstice has reminded us of the shortest day and the longest night. It is also a turning point. As dawn gilded the sky this morning days begin to grow again., Advent, with its 4 candles, is also seen as an observance of this rekindling

When I  light these candles, I reflect on the coming of the Light of Christ.  Can I do so with the intention of sharing this  light? .

What are the ways in which I can help make the world lighter? How do I bring light into the lives of those around me?


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“We have no choice. God is with us.”  Karl Rahner

In the days following Christmas, I think of all the sweet spots of our Advent journey, of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I wrap myself in the love and laughter of my family, the delight as we experience the beauty of it all as lights and reflection are everywhere – in the little girls’ eyes, in twinkling tree lights, in flickering candle light.

These lights string out behind us as we remember Christmases past – all reminding us of the Light that has come, the Light we have received.  And I ask, “How will I reflect his LIght?”