Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Well, here is what it was like with the family last night. Santa brought together those of us who share my mother's genetic code through fancy outfits made for slumbering. If I attempt to give you the entire story you might be sleeping by the time it is finished. So in brief, it goes something like this: My Mom's name is Darlene and true to stereotypical form there is creative tension between her and my brother-in-law. Those of us related to her have at various times been systematically assigned a number in relation to her primary number, "One." Through this scrutiny we are known as "D-1," "D-2,""D-3," etc. Lucky for us Santa and my brother-in-law have a close connection and we now have matching apparel with a Dr. Seuss theme that replaces "D" with "Thing." I am not sure which is worse...or better...but I know that it was hard to stop laughing for the picture. Thanks Santa for your thoughtfulness!

On to a brighter and more central theme for our time together. We are celebrating today the gift of God irrupting into the world. What a great thing to share! Last night I went to mass with my nephew (that would be Thing 5 in the picture), and it was delightful to share the experience with him. We had a conversation in the car about Jesus being human and divine. These mysteries leave me speechless most days and I am grateful that once again I was invited to think about my faith in Jesus Christ. I then made an attempt to articulate what it means to believe in the birth of someone who is both fully human and fully divine. As I write I am curious how some of you celebrated today and how your faith is influenced by Emmanuel-God with us? So, please write and share.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

I am Willing

We are entering the final days of Advent and with Mary have an opportunity to say, "Yes!" to carrying the Incarnate One with us. I only know this because I did the readings. Unfortunately, I was late for Mass this morning and nothing came into focus until Communion. While doing the readings I thought it would have been wise to share "Breath of Heaven" this week. I do wonder as I sit here whether my "Yes" is firm. 

Today, I am feeling a bit disconnected  from the readings. Today, I am not feeling the creative spark to write about this week in Advent. I have asked my self what does it mean to give life to Christ? And, today the only thing I can think about is the joy I received this weekend while in Fond du Lac at the Mother House visiting with some of my sisters. This was the first weekend in months that I have connected with so many CSA and that filled my heart anew. These women encourage me to continue saying, "Yes!" by their presence and commitment. This weekend it was through them that I witnessed the potency of Christ during Advent. And the truth is one of them skunked me in Cribbage and even in her moment (and my reversed boasting) there was something shared.  Connections like this are what it means for me to say "Yes!" to the angel Gabriel.  I won't be so bold as to say, "Bring it on!" Yet, this evening the response is summed up in the song "I am Willing," by Holly Near. Unfortunately, I cannot get a decent download of the song so will save it for another time.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

God Hears Us, Through Us

This weekend brought about an opportunity to spend time with my two sisters in Chicago and we had a blast. It was a time set apart for one another and, I think they would agree, it was a success. While trying to get to a bus yesterday one of the first things I experienced was a man by the name of Ishmael (translated-God will listen/hear) who was seeking some change. The temperatures were frigid and he said if there wasn't change he would take smiles. His eyes were bright and when I looked into them the experience evoked both sadness and joy. He made me want to smile and take a moment to just be present. We chatted for a bit while I remembered what a friend said a couple of weeks ago about a man she met on the streets. Basically, she said she recognized that his job of begging was so much harder than hers. Yesterday her words opened my heart in a very big way. I did not have any cash. So, asked if he would take prayers and a hug. He accepted both. 

These are difficult times. Upon return from Chicago I ran to the store for some items. As I walked in a woman I know greeted me and, throughout our conversation, informed me her husband has been out of full-time employment for nearly a year. In my mind's eye there was this flash of Ishmael and what it was like to be with him yesterday. While shopping I thought of what it might be like to be missing a necessary income in a family. I then thought of some other people I know who are unemployed or underemployed and their struggles. Their is great cruelty in poverty and as economic gaps continue to grow its face becomes more clear. My prayers reach out to those who are struggling to get through these difficult realities. I hope that we-as a living human community-can come together and join Ishmael and others as they seek survival. We need each other in order to share in this moment of time and be assured that indeed, God hears the cry of the poor through the language of our hearts and the action of our hands.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

I love that the days are getting shorter as we move further into this season. Last week there were a few snow flakes in the air. Something about the crispness of Winter coming gives me much excitement. This week I finish the semester for my course work and today was thinking I might attempt to get hooked-up with some Christmas volunteer activity. I thought about ringing the bells for the Salvation Army and might check into it tomorrow. There is something that is pushing me to help others in different ways. My guess is that the last months have been so focused on studying that I need to find a way to get outside of my head and into the reality of other people's needs. This happens with my own teaching, yet I am not spending as much time in the classroom and am missing that connection. Somehow writing this down in the blog might force my hand on following through with my desire to volunteer. And, then again, it might not.

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel is likely my favorite preparatory song during advent as I reflect on what it means to be in waiting today. Yesterday we (my local community) went to experience A Christmas Carol and while they broke into this very song it echoed through me. I experienced Ebenezer Scrooge while he witnessed his own imprisonment and the shackles that weighed him down seem so apparent. You know last night I had time to think about those shackles and how easily I can see them in others. Then I began to reflect on some of the shackles in my own life and how obvious they might be to others. There is a transparency that we are forced to deal with when in relationships, and unfortunately I think that if we saw ourselves as others do our lives might take a serious change. So, as I was reflecting some of the barbs in my own behaviors began to come to the fore and Scrooge no longer seemed so far away. I then realized that although I can be insensitive, or a jerk, or whatever negative thought comes to mind, there is a core belief that the light will always shine in the darkness. Unlike Scrooge, I know that there is goodness in the world and experience it in so many ways, and this reality has melted my heart over and over again. I hope that all of us recognize the shackles that bind us this season. It is my greater hope that we have the courage and strength to ask for help as we begin to gently remove them from our lives. Blessings as we enter into the second week of Advent!