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The general consensus seems to be that we’ve kicked 2020 to the curb. Our long, international nightmare is over! But is it? The funny thing about time is that one year tends to spill over into the next year. We still have challenges to face. Old ones. New ones we can’t even foresee. Do we have the stuff to face it? Maybe with a little faith, a little hope and a little grace, we really can begin all over again.

We have swept the mess to the sill.
Still, it sits, casting an accusing eye:
What will you do with me?
It will not be as easy
as clearing the threshold
and shutting the door.
The scent of it lingers,
its obdurate conundrums
persist, twisted as steel
by the side of the road.
Fresh eyes, fresh hearts
are required, new courage
flowing from hope
we didn’t know we had.
Listen to the urgings of your heart.
It is time for a new song,
sung louder, though throats are sore.
Bear up. Lean in.
Call for change
and change will come.

A star atop a tree
can only be
a drowsy placebo
for something missing.
A sky-held star
is an echo, light hitting
earth like a memory.
Fix your ambition instead
on finding the true star.
You will know it by the way
it surges, hot stone,
crying for the love of something
it cannot name.
Follow the star
to the heart of you,
blind and ragged.
Find,
pure and bright,
a child
that is you.
That is He.
Know, at last,
Christmas,
breaking you,
laying you in straw,
lulling you to sleep with
the breath of sheep.

December 8 celebrates the feast of the Immaculate Conception, which (as anyone who reads me regularly knows) has nothing to do with baby Jesus and everything to do with baby Mary. The Immaculate Conception refers to Mary being conceived without Original Sin. She comes into the world, unlike the rest of us, sin-free. And she stays that way.

What would you do with a brand new, spotlessly clean soul? If the past is any indication, I’d probably just soil it again. Even after being absolved of my sins in the sacrament of Reconciliation — despite my sincere vows to not fall into the same traps again — I inevitably sin.

Is it the human condition to fail and fall, over and over again? Can we ever rise beyond our nature? Surely some of us do. But how?

What must it take,
once washed white,
to stave off soil and stain?
Love, mercy, justice,
wielded wisely.
Love launders.
Mercy bleaches clean.
Justice proofs the fabric
against what muck may come.
Lather liberally. Saturate spots.
Rinse and repeat as needed.

The giving of thanks
brooks no exceptions.
Conjunctions, those buts,
those yets and whethers
have no place at the table,
festooned as it is
with the fruits of our year.
We do not qualify these gifts
for smallness or imperfection,
but look only with eyes that see
peel, stem and leaf, the curve
of the orb, each freckle and seed,
without censure.
It is perfect.
It is what we have.
Give thanks.

woman holding flower bouquet

Just in time for Easter — the second of my collaborations with Krissy Mosley of Visionarie Kindness. The topic was suggested by Miss Ruth, a meditation on the storms currently battering the life of a mutual friend. No matter how dark our nights are, Easter always arrives. (My words are in italics; Krissy’s in regular type.)

I see prayers being answered.
I see clouds gather like a furrowed brow.
I see miracles so clear, light blue skies before the evening
I see storms mounting, a menagerie of shades of gray
I see nations closing the gap not out of fear but faith.
I see faith fragile as an old bone.
I see a faith that crosses religious lines
Wind whipping, blowing change faster

interconnections — preceding daybreak.
than we ourselves can follow.

Purified waters in hyssop, “washed whiter than snow”
God spreads his hands and smiles.

God with blue ink, he writes upon our red hearts
Nothing is written in stone

just so you know.
God visits our tears
He wipes them with holes
in his hands.
He says to me — He says to all of man
I bear it, my child, you’re not alone.
And, in an instant, Easter morning.

I hope that this post finds all of our readers doing well.  I’d say I’m doing well but I’m also losing track of time.  I had no clue how close we are to Easter until right before Lori posted the piece she co-wrote with Krissy, What Hope Looks Like on My Street.

It can be hard to feel the comforting presence of Christ right now.  Me?  I need church.  There’s just something about the sanctuary whether it is quiet and still or filled floor to rafters with soaring music.  Fortunately, our pastor has been recording meditations for those of us at home.  Here is one about Clouds of Hope.

–SueBE

Hey, everybody! Who’s fired up for the new year? Who’s ready to take 2020 by the throat and wrest it into something beautiful, profitable and astonishing?

Not me. Maybe not you, either. But guess what? That’s okay. Most of us don’t have a grand plan. We just keep on keeping on, as they say. This year, let’s be kind to ourselves. Think of all of your daily “yeses” as practice for the big “yes” coming for us all one day, down the line a smidge or a half-century. Whether 2020 is our best year yet matters less than whether we do our best with it, day by day.

No one’s ever ready
for the great not-yet.
You take it as it comes,
like eating an elephant,
bite by bite. The enormity
of the task must be blurred, blunted,
or else you will see nothing but
endless road ahead. Instead,
focus on the odd flower that
punctuates a field, the stray
dog at your heels, the friend
you espy from afar. Small steps.
The now of it. The real feel
of stones on feet, of air coursing
through you, the weight of your bones.
Let each step fall gently. Be prepared
to choose another route. Most of all,
be kind: to your feet, which bear you up,
to your companions on the road,
to the power that prompts you
as you walk each day into
marvelous, maddening newness.

This year, instead of making resolutions, why not be a rebel and resolve to do more of the things you love to do with the people you like to be with? This may sound minor, but, really, it’s an interior renovation of sorts. Deciding what matters to you on New Year’s Day, and every other day going forward. 

So what if all your friends went to the city to watch the ball drop. Going to Times Square in New York on a cold night in a crowd wasn’t your idea of a good time. Getting drunk because the calendar said you should makes no sense either.

This year, allow yourself to shop around and find a life that fits you. Not what others expect, or society says you should be doing.

You do you this year. Make no grand edicts about your life (lose weight, get a promotion, etc.) Just sit and bask in the blessings you’ve already got all around you. For me, it’s peaceful home. A son I adore. Projects that give me a sense of purpose. Friends I can count on. Faith that sustains me.

This year, I plan to be in awe more often. Be in nature when I can. Breathe fully. Find joy in the minutiae of the day. Dishes to wash? That was a nice meal we had, so it’s not a chore. Laundry to fold? A chill is rolling in, so let me put on a nice warm, sweater, fresh out of the dryer.

These tiny miracles we count on every day may not have the “wow factor,” but they’re the building blocks of a blessed life. It’s good to reflect on all we’ve been given and realize that life is already an amazing gift. 

Peace & Blessings to All in this New Year!

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