Advent 24: Go Away

The Advent/Solstice Wreath.

A couple Sundays ago, we acted three stations of the Las Posadas in church. In Mexican Christian tradition, during the nine nights before Christmas, communities gather together and walk through their towns, ending up at a different house each night. People outside the house sing songs asking for shelter for Mary, who is about to give birth. People inside the houses sing, “Go away!” The songs go back and forth until Mary and Joseph and their retinue are invited inside where the people pray together and eat and drink together.

As I think about my own preparations for the Lightreturn, for the birth of the Child of Light within me and the world, for the acknowledgement of Emmanuel–the Divine Within, I find this pageant both unsettling and inspiring. I do not want to admit my reluctance to be the Bearer of Light, to be a welcomer of the messy and chaotic coming of the Holy One into my rooms. For all of Advent, I have explored this inner inn. I’ve peered into the shadows, kept the cobwebs to the corners, shone my little light into hidden cupboards and closets, looked for treasures and traps.

I’ve celebrated the turning, the center of the labyrinth. I’ve sat here waiting, in stillness, content in my solitude. And now, when I am settled into my own quiet winter, comes the raucous god-crowd, knocking at the door and asking to come in. Something needs to be born! they call. You need to make room! It’s bound to get messy. It’s sure to get noisy. Somebody is going to need something from you. You can try to escape the fray, but the fray will come to you.

Is there room within the inn? I feel myself shrinking just at the moment when I need to expand. Remember the stretches. Arms up and out. Breathe in. Pause and expand. Sigh out that breath and let the arms fall. Room enough. Yes. There is always room enough.

What have I been creating this space for, if not for the birth of light within? If not for the child of promise, the Holy One, to enter?

Call that immanent birth the Christ-Child, call it the Divine Light, call it Deepest Awareness. Whatever you name it, are you prepared to let welcome this light into your innermost rooms?

Again, Yes. There is always room enough. Hold the stillness. Hold the chaos. Joy is dancing in the space between.


Gratitude List:
1. Pageantry and ritual that get beneath the surface of things
2. Making space for light to enter
3. My children’s anticipation of Christmas
4. Time out of time. No obligations but the daily preparations for the days of celebration. And those are slow and steady.
5. Peppermint.

May we walk in Beauty!

Expectancy and Hope

Gratitude List:
1. Advent, expectancy, hope
2. Getting older (I am not finding parts of this particularly enjoyable right now, and I put it here to remind me that it really is a wonderful thing despite the grouchy bits)
3. Hot coffee and cold water
4. Cozy warm morning house
5. A refreshing break (I am still holding back a bit on whether I really want to get back into the swing of things, but I’ll be ready when the dawn comes)

May we walk in Beauty!


“The heart is your student, for love is the only way we learn.”
—Rumi


Poet Joy Harjo, from 2012:
“Visited with my cousin George Coser, Jr yesterday at the kitchen table. He’s a gift. Always something profound among the stories. The sacred lies at the root of the mundane. And every word is a power element. Each word or sound, whether thought, written or spoken grows our path, the path of our generation, the children, grandchildren, the Earth. . . . We become the ancestors. A sense of play gives a lightness of being. So get out there and play—and be kind while you’re at it. To yourself, too.”


Help me to journey beyond the familiar
and into the unknown.
Give me the faith to leave old ways
and break fresh ground with You.

Christ of the mysteries, I trust You
to be stronger than each storm within me.
I will trust in the darkness and know
that my times, even now, are in Your hand.
Tune my spirit to the music of heaven,
and somehow, make my obedience count for You.
—The Prayer of St. Brendan (attributed to Brendan)


The Wild Geese
by Wendell Berry

Horseback on Sunday morning,
harvest over, we taste persimmon
and wild grape, sharp sweet
of summer’s end. In time’s maze
over fall fields, we name names
that went west from here, names
that rest on graves. We open
a persimmon seed to find the tree
that stands in promise,
pale, in the seed’s marrow.
Geese appear high over us,
pass, and the sky closes. Abandon,
as in love or sleep, holds
them to their way, clear,
in the ancient faith: what we need
is here. And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye
clear. What we need is here.

Welcoming What Comes

It is Groundhog’s Day. That whistle pig is the guide. It’s time to assess: What will I keep hidden in the dark recesses of winter and what will I bring out into the light? As the groundhog is emerging from winter sleep and starting to think about the Farmer’s vegetables, what will I open my own eyes to? What plans will I make for the coming season?  How ill I nourish myself?

It is Brigit’s Day. Her followers committed themselves to keep her fires always lit. What flames need my vigilance and attention in the coming year?  What paths and processes will I commit myself to following?  What will be my contemplative work in these final weeks of winter?

It is Candlemas. Time to tend to the candles, to bless the tools that will give me light in the coming year.

Here’s to February, the longest month.

Gratitude List:
1. The work of the emergency Women’s Shelter in Lancaster at the YWCA.
2. Early morning sun and late afternoon sun casting long blue shadows of trees over the snowy fields.
3. Looking forward.  Looking backward.  Looking inward.
4. Six weeks.  It’s only six weeks.  I can make it through winter.
5. You.  Thank you for all the ways you keep the fires lit, all the ways you bring light, all the ways you lift your candles and say, “Here.  This is the way.”

May we walk in Beauty!