And so a new year begins… in the Christian tradition, we mark another circle around the sun.
Today is the first Sunday of Advent – a time to begin anew. As the month of December begins energy pulls toward Christmas.
Every store we enter, every advertisement we see, many songs we hear — all focus on the importance of preparing for Christmas. This is often chaotic, stress-building preparation. Preparation far from the call to collect oneself and gather with others to intentionally listen for sounds of God’s arrival.
Advent is a time set apart to live with a sense of wonder and anticipation. It is a time to settle the noise around you, to wait for something to come- something exciting and new.
Does your heart race? Do you feel a bit unsettled?
Light a candle in the dark places and stay alert.
Thank you, Roger Hutchison, for this beautiful image of Advent1.
Blessing the Dust
For Ash Wednesday
All those days
you felt like dust,
as if all you had to do
was turn your face
toward the wind
and be scattered
to the four corners
or swept away
by the smallest breath
did you not know
what the Holy One
can do with dust?
This is the day
we freely say
we are scorched.
This is the hour
we are marked
by what has made it
through the burning.
This is the moment
we ask for the blessing
that lives within
the ancient ashes,
that makes its home
inside the soil of
this sacred earth.
So let us be marked
not for sorrow.
And let us be marked
not for shame.
Let us be marked
not for false humility
or for thinking
we are less
than we are
but for claiming
what God can do
within the dust,
within the dirt,
within the stuff
of which the world
and the stars that blaze
in our bones
and the galaxies that spiral
inside the smudge
“Blessing the Dust” appears in Circle of Grace: A Book of Blessings for the Seasons.
Shepherds: a serigraph by John August Swanson
“It must be a great disappointment to God if we are not dazzled at least ten times a day.”
Now is the moment. It is the only moment we truly have. Look around and see…
We are near the time and place which has called for so much preparation. We have been primed to be alert, to pay attention.
Paying attention can bring moments important and inspiring.
When alert I have seen:
— Fireflies covering a field. Like a blanket of light and movement, they floated in silent grace only saying what was necessary in the glow of dusk.
— Fox pups with coats orange-brown playing on a mound of green earth. With frisky jumps and dashing runs they tried to hide from one another only to be discovered by sweeping tails dipped in white.
— A tiny Carolina wren perched face-first high in the corner of my porch. Dusk had settled into night and this little one had found a safe, dry place to sleep.
— And just yesterday a streak of indigo caught my eye. Before I knew it I faced a tree host to a family of blue birds.
To my surprise… after all this time I still feel a rush of energy when I am present to these sightings. They are moments discovered outside of human control.
We are near the time and place when a moment outside of human control comes to blanket the world with peace and care.
Like the shepherds looking up to angels bright as stars, be alert as God’s presence moves among us.
Quote: Mary Oliver, Good Morning No 5, from Blue Horses (2014)
Location unknown – image source: stekla63.ru
I am – oh – so grateful for moments like these – for prayers like these.
Some days are filled with so much noise. This can be noise from within or all around or both.
It can be near and very far away. It is the type of noise that brings no peace.
And so I am grateful for the moments when God reminds me there is a peace that can be found in quiet.