The earth has made her full orbit around the sun. Thus we find ourselves at the beginning of a new year. It is a wonderful and appropriate time - although certainly not the only natural time throughout the year - to pause and take stock, to interrupt patterns, to check out what we have discovered about ourselves, to honor losses and gifts, to name what has been emerging within and around us, to see what is working and what we need to let go of, and what we can move into going forward as the new year comes to meet us. As we engage this spiritual practice we connect with All those across cultures, traditions, times and locations who have engaged reflective New Year rituals and practices like this before us and to come. Allow yourself to acknowledge the connection with those who come to mind. Allow yourself to touch into this reality, that we are tapping into a rich and full and important practice. Acknowledge this not only with your mind, but sense this in your body, feel this truth. There are so many questions one can be present to at this threshold but I offer you just a few to ponder. As you open yourself to these questions, give a moment to honor the land underneath you, kiss the ground with your feet. Give a moment to acknowledge not only the land you are on but also the Indigenous plants, animals, and peoples who have lived there before you, especially those who have been displaced. Open yourself up to listen to your heart's response to the following: ~ What is the overall landscape of my being, not how I want to be but how I actually am, as I close out 2021? ~ What struggles did I face? What brought me deep joy? ~ What capacity or wisdom did I access within myself in a new way and with greater force this past year? ~ What do I want to leave behind? Can I imagine setting it down, shedding it, or offering it up as a sacred offering? ~ Is there a word, phrase, image and/or gesture that emerges for me that encapsulates 2021? ~ Is there an overarching theme or aim that I want to keep in front of me this new year? ~ To whom and what do I want to give my energy and attention to - both internally and externally? (Consider people, animals, plants, spiritual practices, physical places/land, rituals, activities, work, causes, teachings, etc) ~ What in me feels malnourished, under-tended to, or unknown and how might I begin to nourish and cultivate a relationship with it? ~ What is life asking of me? What does the world need that I can offer? ~ Is there a word, phrase or image that emerges for you when you think about 2022? Happy New Year Year friends. With love, Heather
Here most of the Readings from this week's pauses:
“God has no other possible revelation but ourselves ... We are the only expression of [God’s] face in the area where we live and ... in spite of my shortcomings, I am entrusted with the mission of being Christ. That ... is the gate of light opening out on the mystery of Jesus: that the Incarnation is continued through us and that we, that is each of us, we are Christ for others ... not only Christ to live in union with him, but to bear the light and the presence of Christ to others ... to continue the act of the washing of the feet, to be given, consumed, eaten like Christ, to be nourishment for others."
— Maurice Zundel, With God in Our Daily Lives
“Goodness is the giving of oneself. Infinite goodness is the total gift of self, without limits, without reserve either in duration of time or space or in the giving of what one has and is. Goodness gives itself -- like the sun shines, emits its rays, and diffuses its light; like a fire gives out its warmth or a spring pours forth its waters. You are that Goodness, that gift of self, that light, that heart, that spring watering the earth.
"And you have introduced me into your presence -- me, a tiny thing: empty, cold, unknown, and self-centered -- in order that I may receive, insofar as I can, your being, which is all and wants to fill me to repletion."
— Dom Augustin Guillerand, The Prayer of the Presence of God
"To come together in silence--even just a very few people--creates a field of consciousness, an awareness force. This power helps us to see our lives more truly. Each of us can make a tremendous difference simply through our intent and constancy.
In this way sharing silence is, in fact, a political act. When we can stand aside from the usual and perceive the fundamental, change begins to happen. Our lives align with deeper values and the lives of others are touched and influenced."
— Gunilla Norris, Inviting Silence
'The Sacrament of Christmas'
I make an act of faith toward all [hu]mankind,
Where doubts would linger and suspicions brood.
I make an act of joy toward all sad hearts,
Where laughter pales and tears abound.
I make an act of strength toward feeble things,
Where life grows dim and death grows near.
I make an act of trust toward all of life,
Where fears preside and distrusts keep watch.
I make an act of love toward friend and foe,
Where trust is weak and hate burns bright.
I make a deed to God of all my days--
And look out on life with quiet eyes.
— Howard Thurman
"For this I pray, and ... as you look for a sight of the mysterious things, leave behind everything perceived and understood, everything perceptible and understandable, all that is not and all that is, and, with your understanding laid aside, strive upward as much as you can toward union with him who is beyond all being and knowledge ... not in order to cling to a supernatural world, thereby escaping from what we call the world. The spiritual experience that many call 'mystical' does not put us in touch with a third world, but lets us experience the third dimension of the one and same world, opening us up to a more real union with reality.
… This vision is compatible with the tenets of ... the central dogma of Incarnation. Incarnation of whom? For what? ... Incarnation is for [human] and the cosmos, so that [human] and the cosmos may reach the goal. God became [human] ... so that [human] may become God. ... The distance between the human and the Divine is zero in Christ."
— Raimon Panikkar, The Rhythm of Being
'Ring Out, Wild Bells (from In Memoriam)'
Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky, The flying cloud, the frosty light: The year is dying in the night; Ring out, wild bells, and let him die. Ring out the old, ring in the new, Ring, happy bells, across the snow: The year is going, let him go; Ring out the false, ring in the true. Ring out the grief that saps the mind For those that here we see no more; Ring out the feud of rich and poor, Ring in redress to all mankind. Ring out a slowly dying cause, And ancient forms of party strife; Ring in the nobler modes of life, With sweeter manners, purer laws. Ring out the want, the care, the sin, The faithless coldness of the times; Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes But ring the fuller minstrel in. Ring out false pride in place and blood, The civic slander and the spite; Ring in the love of truth and right, Ring in the common love of good. Ring out old shapes of foul disease; Ring out the narrowing lust of gold; Ring out the thousand wars of old, Ring in the thousand years of peace. Ring in the valiant [human] and free, The larger heart, the kindlier hand; Ring out the darkness of the land, Ring in the Christ that is to be.
—Lord Alfred Tennyson
'Love Has Us Made'
During the holidays
everything seems to grow
into the proportions of the miraculous.
But it is not because we espouse
the merry holiday mantras
that miracles unfold.
It is because the holidays reveal
the true magic of the ordinary.
That life as it is,
with all its difficulties,
when it is met by our tender heart,
regains its natural luminance.
No matter how shiny our decorations,
how fervent our resolutions,
the true message of the holiday season
is that this very ordinary moment,
stripped of any extra regalia,
is always already
the Mother of the Divine in us,
the oil of the sacred flame.
May we not be discouraged
by its lack of glamour.
It is only from the heart
of this vulnerable moment
stripped of its narrative of power
that we become
the miracle we really are.
Love is a refugee,
born in a stable,
always incarnated in the most unprotected.
Every time we turn towards
what is simply here for us,
in our emotional lives,
in our relationships,
we receive the invitation of Love.
As we enter this new cycle and this New Year,
may we keep accepting the invitation.
Nothing needs to be added to this moment,
nothing needs to be added to us.
And that's the miracle.
— Vera de Chalambert