Reflecting on Promise….

It’s a glorious morning, and our yard is filled with all sorts of bulbs beginning to bloom. Yet I was drawn to my orchid in the garden window, with a single blossom beginning to unfold. I love how you can glimpse the intricate detail of the petals, barely open to view. Just yesterday this bloom was tightly closed. It seems we are offered a living history of creation, simply by scanning the blooms along a single branch. I love this orchid, but waiting for the blooms to open is an exercise in patience. There are times when a branch may appear barren, doomed to never bloom again. Then one morning we will awaken to discover tiny nodes, almost invisible to the eye. These nodes slowly grow into what looks like a dark nut, solid and hard. In time, the outline of a flower appears, slowly turning green. Then one morning, we are greeted by an emerging bloom. Trust me, it’s worth the wait. The colors are vibrant and deeply dramatic. Best of all, the blooms last and last, at times seeming to defy gravity. God’s promises are a lot like an orchid’s blooms. There can be days when we are uncertain what the future may hold, when we despair that God is even there. We may allow setbacks to drain us of hope, allow facts to deflate our faith, allow earthly concerns to draw our attention away from the divine. Little by little, we can box ourselves in, slowly losing the path that has been prepared for us. Yet we must remember God’s promises unfold in God’s time, not ours. Take time today to ponder reminders of God’s promises. Pause to look at the beginnings of new life, emerging all around you. Consider part of your life you thought was barren, trusting the Holy Spirit to breathe new life into dried bones. Know that God is always faithful, even when we are far from faithful. And remember to be patient, as the reward is always worth the wait, seeming to defy gravity and lasting longer than we can ever imagine. Photo by Connie Chintall

Reflecting on the Longest Night…..



Longest Night © Jan L. Richardson

This week, in addition to preparing for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services, many congregations will offer a “Longest Night” or “Blue Christmas” service. Usually held on or near the Winter Solstice, this gathering provides a space for those who are having a difficult time during the holidays or simply need to acknowledge some pain or loss they are carrying in the midst of this season of celebration. For you who are offering or participating in such a service, and for all who struggle in this season, I wish you many blessings and pray for the presence of Christ our Light, who goes with us in the darkness and in the day.

Blessing for the Longest Night

All throughout these months
as the shadows
have lengthened,
this blessing has been
gathering itself,
making ready,
preparing for
this night.

It has practiced
walking in the dark,
traveling with
its eyes closed,
feeling its way
by memory
by touch
by the pull of the moon
even as it wanes.

So believe me
when I tell you
this blessing will
reach you
even if you
have not light enough
to read it;
it will find you
even though you cannot
see it coming.

You will know
the moment of its
arriving
by your release
of the breath
you have held
so long;
a loosening
of the clenching
in your hands,
of the clutch
around your heart;
a thinning
of the darkness
that had drawn itself
around you.

This blessing
does not mean
to take the night away
but it knows
its hidden roads,
knows the resting spots
along the path,
knows what it means
to travel
in the company
of a friend.

So when
this blessing comes,
take its hand.
Get up.
Set out on the road
you cannot see.

This is the night
when you can trust
that any direction
you go,
you will be walking
toward the dawn.

Art and Blessing © 2011 Jan L. Richardson, used with her permission, to see more of Jan’s amazing work, check out janrichardson.com

Reflecting on Mist….

It’s a wet, grey day. The rain seems to be cycling through, alternating between drenching and a fine mist. Everything is shrouded in light fog, forcing you to look closely to see anything at all. So I was drawn to this photo of electrical towers by my friend David. I love how the base of the towers can be seen more clearly than the top. The part that is grounded is within easy reach, while we must take time to see the part that reaches for the sky. How often do we settle for what we can readily attain, without making the effort to dig deeper? The dishes and clothes need washing, the bills need paying, not to mention our work outside the home. We convince ourselves we are too tired to bother, that there isn’t time for anything else. Yet we can find time for the computer, or games on our phone, or the television. We tune out instead of plugging in to the true power source. Our God is vast beyond imagining, sovereign over all creation, more powerful than our meager efforts combined. When I first went to see Sister Louise, my spiritual director for many years, I complained about how everything was out of control, how there simply were not enough hours in the day. Gently, persistently, she encouraged me to pray, not using flowery words or a prescribed routine, but by simply emptying my mind to make room for God. On the next visit, I explained the best I could do was two minutes of silence. Twenty years later, I am still encouraged by her reply, ‘That is an eternity to God. The Almighty can do a lot with 120 seconds’. Take time today to be still and rest in God’s love. Plug into the true power source by unplugging from the busy-ness of life. And remember, whatever time you give, no matter how brief, is an eternity to God. Photo entitled ‘Vaporous’ by David Buckwalter

Reflecting on Waiting….

What glorious weather we had last weekend! It’s hard to believe it is almost December, especially after the freak snow storm last month. So I was drawn to this beautiful photo of the lake house view taken by my friend Joseph. I love how the early morning sun lights up the clouds and the surface of the lake, bathing everything in vibrant color. There are many mornings when I would rather roll over and sleep in, than rise to see the early morning light. Yet I sacrifice the in between time, the hush before the start of the day. Life begins at home in this tranquil, serene, in between time, not when we rush out of the house to arrive at work. That quiet time is hard to come by these days, when we are all overscheduled and overwhelmed by the conflicting demands of life. We rush onto the next task, skipping over things we meant to do, and often need to do. We even skip over Advent and start Christmas the day after Thanksgiving. We must be reminded that our church calendar begins with Advent, a time of expectations, of preparation, of quiet reflection. When we celebrate Advent, we find Christmas is worth waiting for. To quote the Reverend Canon Susan Goff, “When we wait, God breaks through in unexpected ways to bless and renew us. [Waiting] is not a hollow barrenness that is just killing time until something better comes along. Our waiting, instead, is pregnant, expectant, charged and filled with blessings that will, in God’s time, be revealed.” Take time today to wait upon the Lord, to make space for God in those in between times. Expect God in the midst of unexpected delays. Allow stillness to soak into your soul and to fill your heart. And remember as you wait that Christ’s life began to change his mother Mary long before he was placed in the manger. Photo by Joseph Syzdek

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