Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Christmas Reflection: Daystar in our hearts appear

We've turned the corner. The days are getting longer once again. Our family spent a few days last
week during the turning of the light in Jasper, Alberta, noticing the glory of the skies, and most especially the snow-capped mountains.

These days, the sunrise doesn't hit the peaks until after nine a.m., and the sun was low at four in the afternoon when we finished hiking, or skating on Pyramid Lake. Little wonder, with less than seven-and-a-half hours of daylight.

I love that so many Advent and Christmas songs are sung in this darkest time of the year, because so many of them speak so beautifully of our longing for Light. Christ as the Light of the World. This one included...

Dayspring from on high be near,
Daystar in our hearts appear!

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Sunday Reflection: an Advent Classic

Today's reflection is brought to you by
Isaiah 12.

Shout aloud and sing for joy:
great in our midst are you,
O Holy One.

That's pretty much it in a nutshell, my God.

We just need to learn to see you in all of life,
to know that you are with us
no matter what.

Then even our sorrows can become joy!


Advent's deep longing and subdued joy has created some really beautiful art and music, and you'll find both in the video below. Veni, veni Emmanuel is a 13th century Latin hymn that we in Canada often sing in English this time of year. This is New Zealander Hayley Westenra's version, and you can bet I'll be looking for more music by her in the near future. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Santa Lucia Day

A friend just reminded me of a wonderful experience from my year in Up With People. We were having our morning meeting in Oshawa, Ontario, when the theatre darkened, and the girls in our cast from Northern Europe processed in, singing for the feast of Santa Lucia. It was a moment that I will never forget.

St. Lucy is rumoured to have worn a crown of candles on her head so she could use both hands to carry food to persecuted Christians hiding in the catacombs. She's mentioned in the Litany of the Saints, and is associated with light and goodness. So it seems fitting that she is honoured this way.

Some years ago, my friend Charleen's choir began a concert with a Lucia procession. It moved me to tears, it was so beautiful. And this video is particularly gorgeous. Happy St. Lucy's Day!

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

#AsIAm #12... Santos and Pipe

L'Arche Internationale has done it again -- another lovely and quirky video in the form of a Latin American docu-telenovela. It's a bit longer than usual (3 parts) but definitely worth watching. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Sunday reflection: Love's holy harvest

Today's reflection is brought to you by
Philippians 1:3-11.

O God,
it's easy to thank you
for the people we love,
to pray with joy
for the ones
with whom we see

It's easy to believe
that you are working
in those we agree with,
and to pray for their success.

But the real challenge is
to be grateful for
and loving towards
who frustrate us at every turn,
who do things we can't condone,
who demand our attention or our pity,
who are not as pure and blameless
as we imagine ourselves to be.

And then there are the strangers
who want to lay claim to our homeland.
If they seem to be
stealing our jobs,
turning our neighbourhoods into ghettos,
using our resources,
refusing to speak our language
or abide by our values,
how are we supposed to love them?

O God,
are witness
to all the ways we love
or not.

And you love us all

All that we have
is free gift from you,
not to be hoarded.

So if we are to be
your hands,
and feet
on this earth,
if we are to reap
a holy harvest
by embodying your love,
our willingness to share
your blessings
must overflow to all who cross our path.

Most especially strangers,
widows and orphans.

Show us where your grace is to be found
in the compassion and generosity
we show
to all your people,
especially those
we find most challenging
to love
with your love.

We are all your beloved.


Friday, December 7, 2018

Special Invitation


(I'm not kidding. The Annual L'Arche Christmas Pageant is a favourite among those who have attended it in the past. One of my friends says it's where the spirit of Christmas begins for her, and I have to agree. No one leaves without a smile.)

Come, and bring friends to share in the joy!

Image may contain: one or more people and text

Thursday, December 6, 2018

What would you take with you?

Last week I had a good chat with my friend Allie, who used to live in Paradise, California until four weeks ago today. She told me that everything but her fireplace and a trio of white cast iron table and chairs were gone, the patio furniture with not a mark on them! Everything else burned to the ground in such intense fire that when she and her husband finally were able to go back last week to see if there was anything to salvage, the few things they tried to pick up crumbled in their fingers. More than heartbreaking.

It seems Paradise had a close call with fire a while back, so Allie attended a fire preparedness workshop to learn how to be ready in case it should happen again. Then she came home and went around her house, seeing the small but treasured things that she didn't want to lose in a fire, something she strongly recommends that we all do. She also collected important documents and took pictures of her family's belongings, to keep them on a memory stick. Everything important went into a couple of bins that she stored in a handy place so that if she needed to evacuate in a hurry, she was ready.

Unfortunately, the fire came more quickly than anyone realized, and for Allie, the most immediate concern was collecting her four dogs and picking her elderly mom up from the local nursing home. The bins had to wait, and by the time Allie turned toward home for the bins, the roads out of Paradise were gridlocked, and there was no way to get back into her neighbourhood for them.

All of it is a huge loss, but Allie's the kind of person who puts a positive spin on life. She mentioned that she and her family have a fresh start, unencumbered by the collected things that they didn't really use or need. They are starting over with a mind to live more simply and sustainably. But every day she remembers something that she wishes she could see or touch just one more time. She misses her neighbours, who have scattered all over the area. And she's not sure if her family will be able to rebuild on their property until the soil is tested for toxicity. In spite of many challenges, Allie's still counting her blessings, the lives of her loved ones in the main, and the friends and family who have been supporting her through this crisis. Her heart is still intact because she treasures the really important things in life.

After my conversation with Allie, I looked around my own environs, wondering what I should put into a treasured objects bin. What's really important? I don't have a lot that I can't live without, and my head is full of memories that may or may not fade with time. I think I'd want a few photo albums, and maybe a journal or two. Personal ID and certain documents are important... and maybe favourite pieces of art by my kids? It's hard to know what I would really miss, but it's worth thinking about. In the end, of course, it's not so much the things as the relationships that are really valuable. And so my tangible treasures might be a few items from dear ones who are no longer here, baby pictures, and music that's gone out of print...

What would you not want to be parted from? And do you have an evacuation plan? You just never know when you might need one.

Monday, December 3, 2018

December wonderland

The first weekend of December brought us a lot of lovely, light, fluffy snowfall that left us with plenty of shoveling to do! On my way home from the dentist this morning, I ran around with my camera because I think the snow is simply beautiful. Don't you?

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Sunday Reflection: O come, Divine Messiah...

This week's reflection is brought to you
by the old French hymn,
Venez, Divin Messie.

Many hymns translated from their original language lose a little bit in translation, so I am looking at them with new eyes. In bringing this one, that English speakers know a bit differently, to prayer, I am amazed by its message. The following Sunday reflection/prayer is a loose translation of the contemporary French lyrics...

O come, Divine Messiah,
Bring us hope and save us!
You are our life!
Come, come, come!

O Child of God, do not delay;
By your presence, give joy
to our world, in its disarray.
Tell us again
of the love with which you love us;
help us all to believe in your love!
Come, come, come!

In Bethlehem, the skies were singing
of the best of your goodness --
the gift of your peace.
It's not hard to see that the world needs peace:
Everywhere, hearts are divided;
come and lead us to your reign!
Come, come, come!

You were born for us all.
May your grace, O God, save us
and dispel our fears in the night.
May your tender innocence
inspire us to live in simplicity.
Be our deliverance!
Come, come, come!