If in your heart you make a manger for his birth.
Then God will once again become a child on earth.
We draw close and our hearts awaken.
A manger simple yet sturdy. Isn’t that what we seek in this season of Advent? We seek something that is strong enough to receive the promise of life and renewed love.
Isn’t that what these weeks before Christmas offer? They offer time set apart – time to focus on what gently holds our hope and calls us to watch and prepare a place for God.
We hope and listen. We prepare our hearts both outside and within, making room for new life and renewed love.
Reflection inspired by the song– If in your heart –
from the CD- An Unexpected Christmas – the Virginia Girls Choir and Ana Hernandez
Quote – Angelus Silesius
Art – He Qi
Praying by Mary Oliver
It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch
a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway
into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.
Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me … Anything can happen, child. Anything can be. –
Shel Silverstein, Where the Sidewalk Ends
It is a serious thing, just to be alive on this fresh morning, in this broken world.
We will be known forever by the tracks we leave.
Making conscious tracks — the future’s path is created by actions we take today. These actions become guides – instructions for those who step onto the trail and forage ahead. These tracks gift our children with direction and instill hope. The steps we take today can leave future generations an inheritance more valuable than anything material.
So what will our tracks tell about the life we have lived? What will our footprints reflect about our priorities and concerns? Each day I read of actions taken that show little interest in enriching lives and communities. Many of today’s footsteps are taken to better one’s self and only widen the gape between those who have and those who are in need.
May each of us set our goal to take careful steps toward a better world, moving ahead as role models to inspire people who feel hopeless. May the path we create lead to peace and well-being for all.
“Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time.”
― Laura Ingalls Wilder
This has been my third Christmas in Asheville and my second in this apartment. Having moved to a new city three years ago, I am still very intentional as I build friendships and create memories/traditions. These are the things that make a place to live into a home to cherish. There are some new annual ‘happenings’ that have begun to feel like traditions and then there are the traditions that have followed me throughout life. They are somehow connected making a bridge of life’s story. During these last three years my bridge has been well-traveled.
As I look at my home decorated with new and old, this year I have enjoyed taking time to remember. While opening boxes marked ‘Christmas’, I uncovered my childhood stocking. Mother made that stocking. She sewed stockings for each of us when we were young and seeing its simple design reminded me of our family traditions. Painted cookies on the tree, Christmas eve services late into the night, waking on Christmas morn to find the crèche complete with ‘baby Jesus’ lying in the manger, these are memories that created the foundation of my life. A foundation that has been tested throughout the years and remains trustworthy.
While laying this stocking under the tree, I am always taken back when I remember there are two. To my annual surprise my grandmother’s stocking is found lying underneath my own. These two stockings were tucked in a box of decorations given to me by Mom some years past. Another moment to stop – my grandmother, Grandmarney, as she was named – seeing her stocking always brings sweet memories. She was my ‘lap’ grandmother. Held close in her arms I can remember rocking and feeling happy. I always looked forward to getting out of my wheelchair and into her lap. Her home always smelled of apple fritters and fried chicken. These days there are not many houses that surround me with that smell. I am very grateful for that memory.
Hand made and filled with memories I placed both those stockings under my tree in my home. When the tree is lit and holding ornaments from then and now, I am once again that child. I am happy to taste the painted cookies, held close by my grandmother and bundle to go out in the cold air of Christmas Eve. Standing on the edge of a new year, these memories nudge me on, with gratitude for my past and curiosity for what lies ahead.