Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories . . . and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time.” — Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of Little House on the Prairie
In “The Alphabet of Spiritual Literacy,” W is for Wonder. And, for many of us, Christmas is the Season of Wonder: pageants and angels and stars and potluck dinners and knitted scarves fresh off the needles. Mesmerized by twinkling lights and Advent candles piercing the darkness, it would seem that wonder just happens, descending like the Angel Gabriel, announcing good tidings.
But hold on. For the introvert, Christmas heralds a nightmare of multiple social events packed into a short space of time. For the financially strapped, the pressure to buy presents that one can ill afford creates anxiety. . . (read more)
Starting to make plans for a winter retreat? I hope you will consider spending it with me. February 3-28, I’ll be teaching an online course called “Living with Beauty” at Spirituality & Practice. You can also give this e-course as a gift! During the season of gift-giving, I hope you will consider giving the gift of beauty to someone you love. Follow this link to learn more. You can click “give as a gift” at the bottom of the page. You may want to gift yourself, too! I look forward to being your guide and companion on this journey of the spirit . . .
We can then see our own suffering as a voluntary participation in the one Great Sadness of God. . . . Within this meaningful worldview, we can build something new, good, and forever original, while neither playing the victim nor making victims of others. We can be free conduits of grace into the world. — Richard Rohr
Recently, my young cat named Oliver struggled with a painful illness, and it occurred to me that my own deep sadness over his distress was something much bigger than me. Remembering a line from Franciscan priest Richard Rohr, I even found myself saying, “It is the Great Sadness.” It was as if my cat’s suffering was noted and felt and permeated with that same Great Sadness that mourns the death of bees, that same Great Sadness that feels the groans of refugees and hurricane victims and gun violence. Yes, that same Great Sadness feels the suffering of this tiny gray rescue cat. It is the one Great Sadness of God, a sadness that invites us to participate. And when we do, we become channels of grace to the world. . . . (read more)
In the spaciousness of uncertainty is room to act. — Rebecca Solnit
In her book Hope in the Dark, writer and activist Rebecca Solnit argues a strong and eloquent case for uncertainty. Uncertainty? But . . . no one likes that word. Don’t we often remark that the worst part of waiting for news about a diagnosis or a lost dog or an unpredictable hurricane is the “uncertainty”? Today, we face serious, existential uncertainties in the larger world: Will we finally address climate change before it’s too late? Is it, in fact, too late? How much more violence will we see before hate runs its present course? Will our democracy hold? All this uncertainty makes us crazy. That is, until we discover the riches inherent in uncertainty. . . . read more
We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure, but not delight. Not enjoyment. We must have the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless furnace of this world. — Jack Gilbert, A Brief for the Defense
For all who feel deeply about the world, for all who mourn a planet under siege, for all who care about justice and human dignity and democracy and the welfare of the most vulnerable — these are hard times. Shocking and dispiriting days. I feel it, you feel it.
When is it all going to turn around? It will turn around, I’m convinced, but at a great price of waiting too long. My theory is that we humans are an eleventh-hour species, waiting until it is almost too late to do anything to save ourselves. But we do, history tells. We do. Barely. By the skin of our teeth. While the future remains open with no guarantees, I truly believe that the current moral sickness will break like a fever and we will see better days. And we who care and dare and dream and choose kindness are part of that recovery, even if we can’t see the results at present.
But this is little consolation while morality and human decency continue to go south. For example, you may be made of sterner stuff, but when I hear hateful, toxic rhetoric day after day, the words seem to waft out from my TV, settling on my skin, leaving behind a layer of dirt and muck. There is no use trying to deny what’s happening or run from it — we can’t. There is no use wallowing in despair — we mustn’t. What we can and must do is be attentive to our souls in the midst of our work for better days. . . . (Read More)