“‘What day is it?’, asked Winnie the Pooh. ‘It’s today,’ squeaked Piglet. ‘My favorite day,’ said Pooh.” ~A.A. Milne from The Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
Saturday is usually everyone’s favorite day of the week: it’s usually sleep-in day, catch-up day, play-hard day, enjoy-everything-about-it day.
Yup, me too.
A day to meander, gaze off into the horizon, acknowledge one’s blessings and then fall asleep blissful in the food bowl.
Saturday is the one day of the week I keep unplanned from start to finish with no particular choreography or have-to places to go.
Just a day to be.
I know Pooh and Piglet are right. Any day is our favorite day simply because it is Today: a new start, a time to celebrate, an undeserved gift of time to be unwrapped the moment our eyes open in the morning.
And so you have a life that you are living only now, now and now and now, gone before you can speak of it, and you must be thankful for living day by day, moment by moment … a life in the breath and pulse and living light of the present… ~Wendell Berry from Hannah Coulter
My clinic days are filled with anxious people, one after another after another. They sit at the edge of their seat, eyes brimming, voice shaky. fingers gripping the arms of the chair.
Each moment, each breath, each rapid heart beat overwhelmed by fear-filled questions: will there be another breath? must there be another breath? Must this life go on like this in panic of not knowing what the next moment will bring?
The only thing more frightening than the unknown is the known that the next moment will be just like the last.
It seems a serious deficit of acknowledgment of NOW, no recognition of a moment just passed that can never be retrieved and relived. There is only fear of the next and the next so that the now and the now is lost forever.
Such worry and angst is more contagious than the flu virus rampant in the waiting room.
I mask up and wash my hands of it throughout the day.
I wish a vaccination could protect us all from our unnamed fears.
I want to say to them and myself:
Stop wishing away your life.
Stop wanting this moment, this feeling, to vanish.
Stop expecting some one, some thing or some drug must fix it.
Stop being blind and deaf to the gift of each breath.
Just stop this moment in time
And simply be.
I want to say to them and myself:
this moment is ours,
this moment of weeping and sharing
and breath and pulse and light
and yes, sometimes despair.
Shout for joy in it.
Celebrate it for what it is.
Be thankful for tears that can flow over grateful lips.
Stop me before I write
out of my own anxiety,
yet another prescription
you probably do not need.
and be blessed–
in the now and now and now.
and the harsh falcon its flightless young. ~Dana Gioia “The Prayer” (written in memory of his infant son who died of SIDS)
When we think of those who wait for us on the other side,
and who we will wait for when it comes our time,
I know there is One who watches over all these reunions,
knowing the moment when our fractured hearts
heal whole once again.
Let us step outside for a moment As the sun breaks through clouds And shines on wet new fallen snow, And breathe the new air. So much has died that had to die this year.
Let us step outside for a moment. It is all there Only we have been slow to arrive At a way of seeing it. Unless the gentle inherit the earth There will be no earth. ~May Sarton from “New Year Poem”
Whenever you find tears in your eyes, especially unexpected tears, it is well to pay the closest attention. They are not only telling you something about the secret of who you are, but more often than not God is speaking to you through them of the mystery of where you have come from and is summoning you to where, if your soul is to be saved, you should go next.
I don’t pay close enough attention to the meaning of my leaking eyes when I’m looking for kleenex to stem the flow. During the holidays it seems I have more than ample opportunity to find out from my tears the secret of who I am, where I have come from and where I am to be next, so I keep my pockets loaded with kleenex.
It mostly has to do with welcoming family members back home for the holidays to become a full out noisy messy chaotic household again, with puzzles and games and music and laughter and laundry and meal preparation. It is about singing grace together before a meal and choking on precious words of gratitude. It certainly has to do with bidding farewell as we did yet again this morning, gathering them in for that final hug and then that letting-go part.
We urge and encourage them to go where their hearts are telling them they are needed and called to be, even thousands of miles away from their one-time home on the farm.
I too was let go once and though I would try to look back, too often in tears, I learned to set my face toward the future. It led me here, to this marriage, this family, this farm, this work, our church, to more tears, to more letting go, as it will continue if granted the years to weep again and again with gusto and grace.
This is where I will go next: to love so much and so deeply that letting go is so hard that tears are no longer unexpected or a mystery to me or my children. They release a fullness that can no longer be contained: God’s still small voice spills down my cheeks drop by drop like wax from a burning candle.
Was there a moment, known only to God, when all the stars held their breath, when the galaxies paused in their dance for a fraction of a second, and the Word, who had called it all into being, went with all his love into the womb of a young girl, and the universe started to breathe again,and the ancient harmonies resumed their song, and the angels clapped their hands for joy?
Power. Greater power than we can imagine,
abandoned, as the Word knew the powerlessness of the unborn child,
still unformed, taking up almost no space in the great ocean of amniotic fluid,
unseeing, unhearing, unknowing.
Slowly growing, as any human embryo grows, arms and legs and a head, eyes, mouth, nose,
slowly swimming into life until the ocean in the womb is no longer large enough,
and it is time for birth.
Christ, the Second Person of the Trinity,
Christ, the Maker of the universe or perhaps many universes,
willingly and lovingly leaving all that power
and coming to this poor, sin-filled planet to live with us for a few years
to show us what we ought to be and could be.
Christ came to us as Jesus of Nazareth, wholly human and wholly divine,
to show us what it means to be made in God’s image.
~Madeline L’Engle from Bright Evening Star
It’s the season of grace coming out of the void Where a man is saved by a voice in the distance It’s the season of possible miracle cures Where hope is currency and death is not the last unknown Where time begins to fade And age is welcome home
It’s the season of eyes meeting over the noise And holding fast with sharp realization It’s the season of cold making warmth a divine intervention You are safe here you know now
Don’t forget Don’t forget I love I love I love you
It’s the season of scars and of wounds in the heart Of feeling the full weight of our burdens It’s the season of bowing our heads in the wind And knowing we are not alone in fear Not alone in the dark
Don’t forget Don’t forget I love I love I love you ~Vienna Teng “The Atheist Christmas Carol”
There is no longer a void or darkness upon the face of the deep. The stars need no longer to hold their breath.
Instead Grace has come in the face of Jesus the Son, through God the Father who moves among us, His Spirit changing everything, now and always.
Do not be afraid.
You are not alone in the dark.
You are loved.
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2 a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, 3 a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, 4 a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, 5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, 6 a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, 7 a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, 8 a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace. Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8
Tomorrow shall be my dancing day I would my true love did so chance, to see the legend of my play to call my true love to dance
Chorus: Song Oh my love, oh my love, my love, my love This have I done for my true love
Then was I born of a virgin pure
of her I took fleshly substance,
thus was I knit to man’s nature To call my true love to my dance.
In a manger laid, and wrapped I was So very poor, this was my chance Betwixt an ox and a silly poor lamb To call my true love to my dance.
Then up to heaven I did ascend, Where now I dwell in sure substance On the right hand of God, that man May come unto the general dance.
Sing O my love, O my love___ This have I done for my true love.
~Traditional English Carol
I danced in the morning when the world was young I danced in the moon and the stars and the sun I came down from heaven and I danced on the earth At Bethlehem I had my birth
Chorus: Dance, dance, wherever you may be I am the lord of the dance, said he And I lead you all, wherever you may be And I lead you all in the dance, said he
I danced for the scribes and the Pharisees They wouldn’t dance, they wouldn’t follow me I danced for the fishermen James and John They came with me so the dance went on
I danced on the Sabbath and I cured the lame The holy people said it was a shame They ripped, they stripped, they hung me high Left me there on the cross to die
I danced on a Friday when the world turned black It’s hard to dance with the devil on your back They buried my body, they thought I was gone But I am the dance, and the dance goes on
They cut me down and I leapt up high I am the life that will never, never die I’ll live in you if you’ll live in me I am the Lord of the dance, said he
Chorus: Dance and sing this happy day, Christ is born the Son of Mary Dance and sing all care away, Let us all our homage pay.
Born today of David’s line To the earth our Saviour cometh Shepherds see the angel’s sign Born today is the Child Divine
Christ is come to set us free
From the curse of sin’s dominion,
From the yoke of tyranny
He is come our Lord to be.
Ox and ass before Him fall,
With the shepherds humbly kneeling
There before the lowly stall,
There before the Lord of all.
Hail, thou wondrous star so bright, In the winter sky appearing, Leading on with steadfast light Eastern monarchs thro’ the night. Chorus
Come, thou long expected Son, Springing from the stem of Jesse, Come thou ever blessed One, Here on earth Thy will be done.
Everlasting God, in whom we live and move and have our being: You have made us for yourself, so that our hearts are restless until they rest in you. —Augustine of Hippo
Advent is a time when I feel an “inconsolable longing, almost like a heartbreak”, as C.S. Lewis writes in his memoir. He describes “the stab, the pang” accompanying the experience of Joy. I feel it too, in a powerfully visceral way, within my chest, within the rhythm of my heart.The restlessness drives me to seek rest, taking me right where I belong in the still sanctuary of a manger of hay, quieted and swaddled alongside the Son of God.
Jesus, Jesus, rest your head.
You have got a manger bed.
All the evil folk on earth,
Sleep in feathers at their birth.
(But) Jesus, Jesus, rest your head.
You have got a manger bed.
Have you heard about our Jesus?
Have you heard about his fate?
How his mother came to the stable,
On that Christmas Eve so late?
Winds were blowing.
Cows were lowing.
Stars were glowing, glowing, glowing.
Jesus, Jesus, rest your head.
You have got a manger bed.