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Invitation to Collective Advent Vigil Week III.

It is the start of the third week of the slow, tender, fecund season of Advent in the Christian tradition. Two weeks ago, I invited all of us into a collective vigil, a period of "keeping awake,” throughout the three weeks leading up to Christmas. The first week of Advent we focused on keeping awake to what is true, last week we turned toward what is good, and this week we will turn our gaze to what is beautiful.


Beautiful can also be understood as what is lovely, both of which possess qualities that give great pleasure or satisfaction to see, hear, think about, or delight the senses or mind. Not only does that which is beautiful and lovely engage our human senses, it draws us into our spiritual senses, opening us to that which is beyond our ordinary notions by becoming a portal to recognizing sacred beauty and loveliness. There is so much that is beautiful and lovely all around us when we have human and spiritual senses that are attuned to receiving it.


Our spiritually wise ancestor Solomon said that God has made everything beautiful for its own time (Ecclesiastes 3:11). These words would suggest there is beauty to be found in everything. There is also so much that is beautiful and lovely within us. As Saint Peter acknowledged when he said, "Your beauty should not be only on the outside, with fancy braided hair, costly beaded jewelry, or dressing up in fine clothes. But let your beauty shine out from who you are deep within your heart—a gentle spirit filled with peace and harmony. That kind of beauty never fades and has great value in the eyes of the Great Spirit" (I Peter 3:3-4, Indigenous Translation of the New Testament).


As humans we have a natural pull towards that which is beautiful and lovely but do not always take the space to appreciate it within and all around us. When we allow ourselves to keep awake to the beauty and lovely around and within us, we are impacted by it as the ancient prayer recorded in Ephesians 4:16 suggests saying, "My prayer for you is that from the great treasures of his beauty, Creator will gift you with the Spirit's mighty power and strengthen you in your inner being." When we feed our human and spiritual senses, we are strengthened which affects the ecosystems of our own and others hearts. This week notice where you might discover beauty and lovely in the unexpected, not only outside of you but within you as well. Notice what happens inside you under the influence of the beautiful and lovely.


May we keep awake to all that is true, good and beautiful throughout this season of lavish winter darkness in a quiet, gestating way. . .




Collective Contemplative Pause Readings


Monday, December 11th with Tom

'That Shapes the Eye' by Hafiz



can easily open the



That lets the spirit rise up and wear

its favorite costume of mirth and laughter.


When the mind is consumed with

Remembrance of



Something divine happens to the




Shapes the hand and tongue

And eye into

The word



Tuesday, December 12th with Ali 

“God in Solidarity” adapted from

God takes on fleshand joins life in the struggle –this is what radical solidarity feels like.Lives and souls and bodies entangled.Risks and possibilities shared.We’re in this together.The mess, the beauty, the work.Don’t be afraid to feel hopeful.God’s promises are kept.Love won’t opt-out or turn away.Love won’t give up when things get tough.Love won’t defend power, or privilege, or institutions, or traditionat the expense of freedom, or love, or liberation, or your worth.God’s with-ness is birthed at the margins.God knows what’s at stake.Let all who are weary, rejoice!All of evil’s deceptions will be revealedand the dominance of unjust powers will cease.The Liberating One now dwells among us,calling upon hearts from all walks of lifeto open. to take courage. to soften. to release.Behold, the Sacred enfleshed reveals the way of Love.


Wednesday, December 13th with Lacey

“Making the House Ready for the Lord” by Mary Oliver

Dear Lord, I have swept and I have washed but 

still nothing is as shining as it should be 

for you. Under the sink, for example, is an 

uproar of mice – it is the season of their 

many children. What shall I do? And under the eaves 

and through the walls the squirrels 

have gnawed their ragged entrances – but it is the season 

when they need shelter, so what shall I do? And 

the raccoon limps into the kitchen and opens the cupboard 

while the dog snores, the cat hugs the pillow; 

what shall I do? Beautiful is the new snow falling 

in the yard and the fox who is staring boldly 

up the path, to the door. And still I believe you will 

come, Lord: you will, when I speak to the fox, 

the sparrow, the lost dog, the shivering sea-goose, know 

that really I am speaking to you whenever I say, 

as I do all morning and afternoon: Come in, Come in.”


Thursday, December 14th with Ali

I would not sacrifice my soulfor all the beauty of this world.

There is only one thingfor which I would risk everything:an I-don’t-know-whatthat lies hiddenin the heart of the Mystery.


The taste of finite pleasureleads nowhere.All it does is exhaust the appetiteand ravage the palate.And so, I would not sacrifice my soulfor all the sweetness of this world.

But I would risk everythingfor an I-don’t-know-whatthat lies hiddenin the heart of the Mystery.


The generous heartdoes not collapse into the easy things,but rises up in adversity.It settles for nothing.Faith lifts it higher and higher.

Such a heart savorsan I-don’t-know-whatfound only in the heart of the Mystery.


I will never lose myselffor anything the senses can taste,nor for anything the mind can grasp,no matter how sublime,        how delicious.

I will not pause for beauty,I will not linger over grace.I am bound foran I-don’t-know-whatdeep within the heart of the Mystery.


— Portions of John of the Cross, Glosa á lo Divino, trans. Mirabai Starr


Friday, December 15th with Catherine

"Annunciation" by Denise Levertov

We know the scene: the room, variously furnished,almost always a lectern, a book; always the tall lily.               Arrived on solemn grandeur of great wings,the angelic ambassador, standing or hovering,whom she acknowledges, a guest.

But we are told of meek obedience. No one mentions courage.              The engendering Spiritdid not enter her without consent.                                        God waited.

She was free to accept or to refuse, choiceintegral to humanness.Aren’t there annunciations of one sort or another in most lives?....


Saturday, December 16th with Catherine

“Whenever new life grows and emerges, darkness is crucial to the process.  Whether it’s the caterpillar in the chrysalis, the seed in the ground, the child in the womb, or the True Self in the soul, there’s always a time of waiting in the dark.”                                                       

— Sue Monk Kidd, When the Heart Waits


"Holy Darkness" by John Michael Talbot

Holy darkness, blessed nightHeaven's answer hidden from our sightAs we await you, O God of silenceWe embrace your holy night


I have tried you in the fires of afflictionI have taught your soul to grieveIn the barren soil of your lonelinessThere I will plant my seed


In the deepest hour of your darknessI will give you wealth untoldWhen the silence stills your spiritWill my riches fill your soul




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