What an amazing picture. A little child in the midst of an ancient practice. So intent, even to the detail of his fingers. It is hard to imagine what kind of world surrounds this child’s experience.
This picture reminds me of the many times a young one has stood before me, hands open to receive communion or to reach for a blessing. They watch and listen as if the meaning of this worship is clear. With imaginations, fresh and unencumbered, children instinctively know the importance of these words and actions. They may fidget, create art on paper with crayons and speak out in a moment of silence but they are paying attention. In a flash, they express their own faith throwing us off balance–reminding us that we are in a place where the unexpected happens.
During times set aside for worship, we (yes, even clergy) often are distracted by thoughts of our schedules and activities for that day and beyond. These thoughts become our fidgets, our coloring activities, our own shout-outs in the midst of holy silence. To become quiet in mind and spirit is not easy task. With all the stimulus that fills our lives, finding a time for quiet is a challenge on its own and sometimes just not possible.
I look again at the picture of this child. Not only does it bring a smile but it can bring a moment of stillness and peace. What brings a moment of calm when noise and chaos surrounds you? No one image works for all people but we can find something that will carry our holy silence until we can hold it once again. It may be a picture, a memory, a person or a prayer. Whatever you ‘see’ – let it travel with you through your busy days. May it offer a moment that calms and quiets you in mind and spirit.
Welfare- a single word that carries so much meaning. Often understood to reflect a benevolent connection with all people – those in need and those in abundance, finding common ground. For decades used in this country to describe structures set in place to assist those who are poor and those with unique needs so they might have the basics for living; food, shelter, medial care and seek meaningful, productive lives. Of recent ‘welfare‘ has become a word filled with negative connotations. Used to posture opinion as our country prepares for a presidential election.
We risk so much when we turn our backs on one another. If we are not awake, society’s focus on the individual could wash our collective minds and hearts of the importance to care for one another. How tragic and dangerous.
Helen Keller knew so well the importance of interdependence. Her independence was directly impacted by her community’s support and encouragement. Her life was an example of welfare’s good and brought encouragement for generations to come. The well-being of one person ripples beyond to all people.
Welfare – we must hold this word carefully before us as we help to shape the future of our country and our lives. To allow its definition to be re-tooled for purposes of greed and prejudice is not an option.
Carry this word to your time of quiet, in prayer and meditation. May its seed take root and give us the needed strength to live by example. The welfare of all depends on each of us. Not as individuals but as a community shaped by our actions – actions that have ultimate effect on all.
Welfare – a word of compassion and empowerment. May we use it carefully and with sincerity.
To begin the season of Advent, I share this brief reflection from the Presiding Bishop. May nature’s example, quiet in the ‘waiting time’ of re-creation, be your guide as these four weeks unfold.
Advent Reflection from The Episcopal Church on Vimeo.