Miracle

A miracle is not defined by an event.
A miracle is defined by gratitude.


Quote: Kate Baestrup

a time and place for miracles

(Moroccan door- Pinterest)

(Moroccan door Pinterest)

Expectancy is the atmosphere for miracles.
Edwin Louis Cole

A most important word – expect. During the last four weeks we have been tuning our abilities to stay alert and expect. In most homes this preparation involves creating a sense of familiar, a comfort in tradition. Trees are decorated and parties are hosted. Families gather to share meals and gifts.

All of this is expected. Yet there is a greater expectation in the air. The kind that fills the earth with a sense of awe and wonder. Against a backdrop of the impossible, behind doors strange and unfamiliar – everything is in place for God’s miracle to come into this world.

A required census, takes Joseph and Mary far from home to be counted in the town of Joseph’s roots.

To imagine for a moment – riding a donkey pregnant and full-term. So many miles — to a place where there are few friends or contacts. They knew no one and struggled to find a place to rest and prepare for a birth. The road was rough. They entered Bethlehem weary and cautious. The baby has begun to make his move and his mother had to find someplace, any place.

In the town considered home to Joseph – there was no place for him to stay with his family.

How can you prepare when so little is in your control? All this time to wait for the expected.

It seems, once again, God knows the way to get the world’s attention. In a barn, behind an inn – He is born. God has come among us in spite of these apparent limitations.

Behind an unfamiliar door, inside an unknown stable – the moment is here. A baby is born.

So it seems that being prepared is different from being in control. We are called to be prepared and to stay alert. The miracle comes in an unexpected place – at an unexpected time.

And all the heavens sing…

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(Image information unknown)

a child, again, at Christmas

Christmas tree for blog 2014
“Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time.”
― Laura Ingalls Wilder

This has been my third Christmas in Asheville and my second in this apartment. Having moved to a new city three years ago, I am still very intentional as I build friendships and create memories/traditions. These are the things that make a place to live into a home to cherish. There are some new annual ‘happenings’ that have begun to feel like traditions and then there are the traditions that have followed me throughout life. They are somehow connected making a bridge of life’s story. During these last three years my bridge has been well-traveled.

As I look at my home decorated with new and old, this year I have enjoyed taking time to remember. While opening boxes marked ‘Christmas’, I uncovered my childhood stocking. Mother made that stocking. She sewed stockings for each of us when we were young and seeing its simple design reminded me of our family traditions. Painted cookies on the tree, Christmas eve services late into the night, waking on Christmas morn to find the crèche complete with ‘baby Jesus’ lying in the manger, these are memories that created the foundation of my life.  A foundation that has been tested throughout the years and remains trustworthy.

While laying this stocking under the tree, I am always taken back when I remember there are two. To my annual surprise my grandmother’s stocking is found lying underneath my own. These two stockings were tucked in a box of decorations given to me by Mom some years past. Another moment to stop – my grandmother, Grandmarney, as she was named – seeing her stocking always brings sweet memories. She was my ‘lap’ grandmother. Held close in her arms I can remember rocking and feeling happy. I always looked forward to getting out of my wheelchair and into her lap. Her home always smelled of apple fritters and fried chicken. These days there are not many houses that surround me with that smell. I am very grateful for that memory.

Hand made and filled with memories I placed both those stockings under my tree in my home. When the tree is lit and holding ornaments from then and now, I am once again that child. I am happy to taste the painted cookies, held close by my grandmother and bundle to go out in the cold air of Christmas Eve. Standing on the edge of a new year, these memories nudge me on, with gratitude for my past and curiosity for what lies ahead.

Home for Christmas

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At Christmas, all roads lead home. ~Marjorie Holmes

Welcome Christmas…

This is the first Christmas in my new home. As written in an earlier entry, I prepared for this season with mixed emotions. There have been moments when I have faced the objects of Christmas past and felt a great sense of loss. This year has been strained to draw tradition near in a home so new and empty of history.

Hopeful to be surrounded by a sense of Christmas “familiar”, I have come into my home during these past days grateful to feel the comfort of my Christmas past. Sitting in front of my tree I am delighted to see ornaments that could tell stories of my life. There are nativity scenes, candles and other decorations filling space in my home and in each place I am gifted with memories.

Nothing is impossible! As I welcomed my parents to share in Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, we spent our time eating good foods from restaurants recently discovered and journeying into the warmth and light of beautiful places filled with others to celebrate Christmas Eve. I woke on Christmas Day, blessed with a sense of gratitude ~~ gratitude for memories already made in this new place I call home. We have had a true celebration. With the excitement of exchanging gifts with family, the delight in seeing nature’s beauty, the search for the most impressive Christmas lights, the inspiration to sit in a church where people knew my name and the comfort surrounding a table with new friends as we shared Christmas dinner, there was little lacking.

“At Christmas, all roads lead home.” While reading this quote I have a fresh perspective on its meaning. Even in a time when so much feels awkward and unfamiliar, I have found new roads that can lead to home. Nothing is impossible!

reflections on this Christmas Eve

What an unlikely place to be on the eve of bearing God’s child!

As if they had not already gone through enough. I wonder what it was like for Joseph and Mary to prepare for this moment. It seems that trying to make any plans was futile. Mary and Joseph began with certain images of what their life would be like. After all they were raised in a close community–they were trained in the tradition of their ancestors–their life would be a mirror of their parents and grandparents. Of course we know the story. Nothing about the life that Mary and Joseph  shared would be like their close relatives.

Nestled in the midst of a town named in the prophets, they would constantly be challenged to comprehend where they belonged. Visited by angels and encouraged by dreams this family would begin with little security and carry with them a different understanding of belonging.

Belonging to a greater community and charged to raise the child who would grow to lead a new “Way”. These parents would always have to step back in the quiet and trust.

What an unlikely place to be on the eve of bearing God’s child! In a stable, far from home – alert and aware. Isn’t it true – in the most uncomfortable moment we can find the greatest strength?! When all of the familiar is torn away, the night sky is brighter and strangers become friends.

The story is told that a child was born tonight. Vulnerable and yet determined – determined to sit in the center of this fragile earth and make it home.

Come Lord Jesus, our guest to be…

(Pre)Occupied

Few have been this preoccupied with tents

since you recklessly pitched one among us.

I would have chosen something more stable,

not quite so porous and vulnerable,

safe, secure, readily significant,

and missed the whisper of evening breezes,

the restless susurration of canvas,

and that one appearing in the shadows,

light flinting off flesh in a fading sun,

fireflies dancing in the night,

rousing my longing

to step into your own

luminous darkness.

The Rev. Jay Johnson – Peculiar Faith