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This fourth Sunday of Advent in the sacred darkness brings us closer to the birthing and delivery of the Christic which has been germinating within Mary and within the womb of our heart. Perhaps there is a slowing and quieting. . . a leaning in and drawing from the virtues of Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love out of the wellspring deep within. . . a co-creating of the conditions best conducive to this new emergence or intensification of the Christic in our lives. The first week of Advent focused on Hope, the second Peace, and last week Joy. Now our focus moves toward the substance of Love. To birth Love, to offer Love, to see Love, to receive Love, to see through Love, to live Love, to become Love. In her book, “See No Stranger: A Memoir And Manifesto of Revolutionary Love” Valarie Kaur says, “Love is more than a rush of feeling. Love is sweet labor — fierce, bloody, imperfect, and life-giving. A choice we make over and over again. . . Joy is the gift of love. Grief is the price of love. Anger protects that which is loved. And when we think we have reached our limit, wonder is the act that returns us to love.” I see Mary as one who shows us this way of Love. She entered the sweet messy labor of bringing forth the Christ in a barn in the midst of muck and straw. She raised him and tended to him over and over. I imagine her taking great joy in him, wanting to protect him, grieving the loss of him during his final offering, and ultimately his resurrection leading to wonder and returning her to the Love still reverberating in this horizontal realm and beyond. Our hearts already know this territory when we occupy them with our three centered awareness through thinking, feeling, and sensing. If you wish, join me in a breath prayer to nourish and be nourished by Love in the cathedral of your heart this week. As mentioned, breath prayers are a practice in many traditions and are a way to pray ‘without ceasing.’ We are always breathing and therefore we can take this prayer with us into each moment of the day - while driving, while wrapping presents, creating a meal, spending time with friends or family, etc. Breath naturally and as you inhale, breath in “my Heart is”. As you exhale, breath out “fueled by Love.” Hope, Peace, Joy and Love within and upon us all, Heather


Here most of the Readings from this week's pauses: “Magnificat of Waiting for the Fullness of Time" My soul reflects quietly on your fullness, and my spirit grows stronger in the hope of your promise, God my redeemer, because you have filled me with the knowing that you are alive within me. Yes, day by day through the course of time my awareness of the call to blessed fulfillment increases for you have done great things in me. Holy is this time, and patience is your gift to all who nurture the seed of your love. You have changed my life; I was so confident in my unknowing. You have deflected my fervent thrust toward iron-clad goals, and spread before me your vision of fragile simplicity. My longing to be a healing and reconciling person to your people is affirmed within the daily comings and goings of my life;... You are here now even in this seeming emptiness of waiting, …according to (your) promise made in the beginning of time… remembering your intent to reach through the work of my life that your fullness may be known now, in our time." — Ann Johnson, from Miryam of Nazareth ‘A Walk’ My eyes already touch the sunny hill, Going far ahead of the road I have begun. So we are grasped by what we cannot grasp; it has its inner light, even from a distance -- and changes us, even if we do not reach it, into something else, which, hardly sensing it, we already are; a gesture waves us on, answering our own wave… but what we feel is the wind on our faces. — Rainer Maria Rilke "The most important learning, that of experience, can be neither summoned nor sought out. The most worthy [we might say wisdom] cannot be acquired by what is known as study -- though that is necessary, and has its use. It comes in its own good time and in its own way to the man [or woman] who will go where it lives, and wait, and be ready, and watch. Hurry is beside the point, useless, an obstruction. The thing is to be attentively present. To sit and wait is as important as to move. Patience is as valuable as industry. What is to be known is always there. When it reveals itself to you, or when you come upon it, it is by chance. The only condition is your being there and being watchful." — Wendell Berry 'For Joy' You can prepare, but still it will come to you by surprise, crossing through your doorway calling your name in greeting, turning like a child who quickens suddenly within you. It will astonish you how wide your heart will open in welcome for the joy that finds you so ready and still so unprepared. — Jan Richardson “Except that it is not visible to the naked eye all the ways she has ceased to wait. They cannot see in her that her waiting carries no idleness, no passiveness. She is not resigned, awaiting the delivery of her sealed fate. It has little to do with patience. Her waiting has not been a biding of time but an abiding in time, dwelling, making herself at home. She has taken every last frayed end, knotted it; every loose thread, woven it; every jagged edge, worn it smooth; every ragged scrap, stitched it up. This woman, waiting, is the wise maiden with oil in plenty, the grown woman who knows the time of birthing, the aged crone who feels in her flesh the measure of her days. It cannot be seen in her all the way she is ready. But soon, in the fullness of time, she will cry out and be delivered. Guardian of the seasons, keeper of every time, tune us so to your rhythms that we may know the occasion for stillness and the moment for action. May we be so prepared so aware so awakened in our waiting that when you prompt us into motion, our hands may be your hands and our purposes your own. ” — Jan Richardson “Seeds grow in the dark—so do we. Let’s stop making such a virtue out of the light. Let’s turn toward what’s in the shadows and breathe it in, breathe it here, meeting it face-to-face until we realize with more than mind that what we are seeing is none other than us in endarkened disguise. Seeds grow in the dark—so do we. Let’s not be blinded by light Let’s unwrap the night Building a faith too deep to be spoken A recognition too central to be broken Until even the darkest of days can light our way.” — Robert Augustus Masters


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