Advent begins.

I hope your week has been full of giving thanks and gratitude for the simple joys of life in the midst of all the changes in holiday traditions and losses you may be experiencing. The inner posture of gratitude and thankfulness is good medicine for us particularly in times of stress and grief. It is one way of being kind and gentle with yourself and others as we all navigate the holidays and staying safe in the midst of the pandemic.

Today marks the beginning of advent within the Christian tradition. Advent is the four week season leading up to Christmas, the day that celebrates Christ in human form being birthed into this finite horizontal realm. This story reveals the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus, as a model of what it looks like to bring the fully realized human who grew in awareness of his divinity and union with God into being. Jesus knew himself not only as a citizen of the finite but of the infinite and he bridged the two in his very own heart, that organ of spiritual ‘seeing.’ We can follow Mary’s path allowing this to be a time of gestation, of waiting, of patiently preparing, of readying to bring forth, to give birth to the Christ in us more immanently. There is a wisdom chant written by Darlene Franz that captures this beautifully. The words are “Inner life of Being, bearing Christ within me, Come!”

There are different ways of relating to Christ. This advent season I am going to invite you to consider relating to Christ in you, the way the mystics and contemplatives in the wisdom tradition do, as your deepest truest self. . . the inner life of Being coming from the depths of our inside. . . the light within where you cannot find separation from God and there is only an inter-abiding. We do not say that we are God but that in union we cannot say God is completely other our selves. May your mind be open. May your heart be wide. May your body be at ease. May you re-member yourself.

Here are a few of the readings from this week's pauses: 'Gratitude' by Mary Oliver What did you notice? The dew-snail; the low-flying sparrow; the bat, on the wind, in the dark; big-chested geese, in the V of sleekest performance; the soft toad, patient in the hot sand; the sweet-hungry ants; the uproar of mice in the empty house; the tin music of the cricket’s body; the blouse of the goldenrod. What did you hear? The thrush greeting the morning; the little bluebirds in their hot box; the salty talk of the wren, then the deep cup of the hour of silence. When did you admire? The oaks, letting down their dark and hairy fruit; the carrot, rising in its elongated waist; the onion, sheet after sheet, curved inward to the pale green wand; at the end of summer the brassy dust, the almost liquid beauty of the flowers; then the ferns, scrawned black by the frost. What astonished you? The swallows making their dip and turn over the water. What would you like to see again? My dog: her energy and exuberance, her willingness, her language beyond all nimbleness of tongue, her recklessness, her loyalty, her sweetness, her strong legs, her curled black lip, her snap. What was most tender? Queen Anne’s lace, with its parsnip root; the everlasting in its bonnets of wool; the kinks and turns of the tupelo’s body; the tall, blank banks of sand; the clam, clamped down. What was most wonderful? The sea, and its wide shoulders; the sea and its triangles; the sea lying back on its long athlete’s spine. What did you think was happening? The green beast of the hummingbird; the eye of the pond; the wet face of the lily; the bright, puckered knee of the broken oak; the red tulip of the fox’s mouth; the up-swing, the down-pour, the frayed sleeve of the first snow— so the gods shake us from our sleep. 'A Thanksgiving Blessing' by Joyce Rupp May an abundance of gratitude burst forth as you reflect upon what you have received. May thanksgiving overflow in your heart, and often be proclaimed in your prayer. May you gather around the table of your heart the ardent faithfulness, kindness, and goodness of each person who is true to you. May the harvest of your good actions bring forth plentiful fruit each day. May you discover a cache of hidden wisdom among the people and events that have brought you distress and sorrow. May your basket of blessings surprise you with its rich diversity of gifts and its opportunities for growth. May all that nourishes and resources you life bring you daily satisfaction and renewed hope. May you slow your hurried pace of life so you can be aware of, and enjoy, what you too easily take for granted. May you always be open, willing, and ready to share your blessings with others. May you never forget the Generous One who loves you lavishly and unconditionally. Various Blessings by John O'Donohue “May you experience each day as a sacred gift woven around the heart of wonder.” “Blessed be the gifts you never notice, your health, eyes to behold the world, thoughts to countenance the unknown, memory to harvest vanished days, your heart to feel the world’s waves, your breath to breathe the nourishment of distance made intimate by earth." “Keep Something Beautiful in your Heart to Survive Difficult Times and Enjoy Good Times.” “May I live this day Compassionate of heart, Clear in word, Gracious in awareness, Courageous in thought, Generous in love.”

With love, Heather

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