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Advent - Emmanuel: God is With Us

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Advent: Emmanuel - God is With Us (A Repost)
This is a time of year when there are songs we only listen to once...
I like to pull out old Advent and Christmas classics and new ones as well, and allow their rich melodies to fill all the corners of my heart and soul...
A friend recently asked me what kind of music I had on my ipod. I proceeded to describe the wide variety of genres and playlists I had so carefully organized - spanning from folk rock, to classical, to jazz, and to mantras and liturgical music. My friend stopped right there - totally surprised - though in the seventies - when we were in our late teens and early twenties, she and I earned our spending money by playing liturgical music in several parishes...
I love classic Advent songs of awaiting like "O Come, O Come Emmanuel," and my favorite rendition is by Mannheim Steamroller. I wait all year to hear this song and enter into the deep longing and stillness it calls me to.
I also love an original piece by Michael…

Advent - A Time for Giving and Receiving Joy

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Advent - a Time for Giving and Receiving Joy
Joy is one of the greatest gifts that we can have and we can give - not only at this time of year that naturally invites it and elicits it - but in every other season as well!
"Joy is prayer -  Joy is strength - Joy is love - Joy is a net of love by which you catch souls. She gives most who gives with joy." - Mother Teresa

"Never miss a joy in this world of trouble... that's my theory! Happiness, like mercy, is twice blessed: it blesses those most intimately associated with it and it blesses all those who see it, hear it, touch it or breathe the same atmosphere." - Kate Douglas Wiggin

Feel joy, and spread joy. And remember, that ancient Egyptians could only cross over to the next life if they could affirm that in that lifetime, they had indeed found and received joy.... (A Repost)

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Advent - A Season for Peace (A Repost)
I did not set out to write a series of Advent reflections. I write only when I am inspired to do so - and when I get a clear message that somehow something in my heart must be conveyed...
And while I know that not everyone that reads this blog comes from the same spiritual or philosophical background - or even the same interests or convictions - I try to convey messages and values that are both timeless and universal, and accessible to all. And so today, I write of peace, because in the last few days, so many messages received have reminded me of its importance...
As I mentioned a few days ago, I have been reading the daily reflections on a a site called "Following the Star," and this weeks entries focus on peace.
Forty-two years ago today, Thomas Merton, perhaps the most prolific spiritual writer of all time - and most certainly of the 20th century - died accidentally, while attending a monastic conference in Thailand. Merton was a Trappis…

Advent - A Time for Miracles

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Advent - A Time for Miracles (A Repost)
I arise in the darkness and am drawn to meditation after a deep, and nourishing sleep...
I sit in the stillness, the gentle rain, and the quiet - and give thanks for so many things...
I marvel at the beauty of the last few days - sweet time spent with soul friends - and with a community of kindred souls...
I am grateful for so many messages given and received...
I revel in the opportunities to share with like-minded souls the blessings we have received and the incredible work God is doing in our lives...
I sit and I pray - and ask to be shown the way through some situations I must navigate - buoyed by the dearest soul companion who shared her own story and encouraged me to ask every day, to be shown the way - and be willing to discover that the path was always there in front of me - waiting for my recognition...
I share with a lovely friend and student - that despite whatever may be - or not be in my life - God's love and the network of suppor…
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ADVENT - A Season for Forgiveness (A Repost)
Today, I send out a few Christmas cards, and in many of them, I simply wrote:
"May the blessings of this Sacred Season inviting Stillness and Silence be yours. I am grateful for the gift of you!"

Advent, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Diwali - all more or less intersect - and echo and invite the celebration of light - and at heart are joyous occasions.
It is also a time to set right things that aren't, and I found myself reflecting on this yesterday, as I read through the readings for the day. This weekend, I went down to the basement to retrieve and dust off my Lectionary - a remnant of the days I was a liturgist and responsible for worship services. I was moved to add the liturgical readings of the day to my morning reflections. Today, for example, is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception...
In my morning meditations, I read from the booklet "Walk With Me," that I picked up at St. Mary's Catholic Church, in London, an…
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Advent - A Season for Balance (A Repost)
This week, my yoga teacher asked us if the holidays had a way of throwing us off balance. At first I shook my head nodding no - and then quickly caught myself, because if truth be told, I have been out of sorts and dealing with some issues on the personal and physical front.
The whole sequence of poses steered us - not only in the direction of attaining greater balance - but urged us to simply accept where we were, when we experienced ourselves as out of balance, in a non-judgmental way. My teacher, who is perhaps the most enthusiastic person I have encountered in my life, urged us to banish our inner self-critic - and send him or her packing indefinitely to the local watering hole! I loved that image!
I had no idea how timely this class would be...
Instead of succumbing to unbalance, my teacher reminded us, that tuning into the breath, and availing ourselves of all the skills that our yoga and meditation practices offered us, could help bring abou…

Advent - Be Still and Know

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Advent - Be Still and Know (A Repost)
Perhaps the most unusual film to be released last year was "Into Great Silence."
Some of the reviews described this film as: a transcendent experience, intoxicating, and breathtaking.
The movie explores the world of the Grande Chartreuse in the French Alps, where Carthusian monks have resided for centuries. The movie has no score, no speaking, and none of the usual things we would expect in a movie. Instead, this film invites us to immerse ourselves fully in the hush of monastic life.
It is a world of silence...
It reminds me of the psalmist who in Psalm 46 invites us to follow this exhortation from the Divine:
Be still and know that I am God.
This season invites us into silence. Yet when we venture outside - there is rarely any silence. Every public place we go to provides an onslaught of noises which barrage the senses. Many people have not experienced the joys or the delights of silence. Some are even afraid of it.
Take time to explore s…

Advent - A Season of Light

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Advent - A Season of Light (A Repost)
The day begins with wind and rain, and later when I go for a walk, I note that the creeks are swollen, and I can only imagine what the river looks likes. A part of me yearns to take a look, but there are tasks waiting for my attention...
Advent is a season that invites light into our lives, just as we are journeying more deeply into darkness...
There is a wonderful site with Advent reflections called "Following the Star," that I wrote about on this blog two years ago. And yesterday, I read the selections for the day several times...
"People of faith are not unrealistic. We know the world can be a dark place. But we also know that darkness is not all. There is a reason to hope, because there is a light always shining. Watch now for the light...And have your hope renewed..."
I thought of the wonderful scripture passage from Isaiah 2:9, and decades ago, when I was a Liturgical musician, I often sang a song based on this passage:
"T…

Advent - A Season of Change

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Advent - A Season of Change (A Repost)
I make my way down to the river on this rainy morning, and offer my Advent Prayers, on its shores, under an overcast sky...

I read this quote by Cardinal John Henry Newman, who began his life as an Anglican, and ended it as a Catholic saint, not that it matters to me. Even as a child, I felt we were all one, and I could not imagine or abide a kind of God that would exclude some of his children from the gift of eternal life, or from sharing at His table... "To live is to change, and to be perfect, is to have changed often."
As I I work through some deep issues, it is obvious that they are once more an invitation to change and to grow. Newman also is quoted as saying that "growth, is the only evidence of life..."

Yet change is messy, and painful at times. We can deny what it asks of us - but only to a great cost to our health and well-being. What we bury deep inside has a way of gushing forth out of us once again, demanding our attenti…

A Gratitude Practice at the River

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"May I be kind and merciful. May I be humble and compassionate. May I be loving and forgiving."
Twelve years ago this week, I began this blog. It has taken many shapes and served many purposes throughout the years.

This morning, on this Thanksgiving week, I went down to the river to do a gratitude practice.

I was reminded of a "Gratitude Litany" I had created a few years ago as a 90 second meditation.

As I did my practice, I found myself voicing these words out loud into the blue expanse before me as a white egret floated quietly on the river:


"May I be kind and merciful. May I be humble and compassionate. May I be loving and forgiving."
Practices do not have to be elaborate. They need not consume hours of our time. Just a few minutes of our time to be mindful of those in need that we know - and those we don't - is all that is required. Just a few moments of presence and of gratitude will go a long way to changing us, our lives, and those around us.

Blessings to…