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!

Advent 21: The Shortest Day

We arrive at the shortest day.
This moment, when I am writing, is the darkness just before the dawn.
The year, too, is dawning.
Sit in the dark.
Feel the empty quiet around you.
Breathe in.
Breathe out.
Holy, holy, holy.

Gratitude List:
1. Laughing with my family. Somebody said last night that they were glad we get to celebrate Winter Stoltzfus together.
2. The long night is over and the day is dawning.
3. There are still many days to become acquainted with the shadows, but the light is returning.
4. How the house lights make the dew sparkle and twinkle. Light and shadow. Light and shadow
5. Now the day begins, the laughter, the clatter, the murmurs, the music the twinkling eyes.

May your day be filled with Shine!

My Mother’s Voice

Tanzanian Silence (1966)
by Ruth Weaver

White hot noonday sun;
The earth, still;
Cattle and birds, silent at midday.
Later a breeze would come sweeping up from the shores of Lake Victoria;
And children would laugh and call and run home from school;
But in this time and place
And at this hour,
The sound of sheer silence.

In that stillness,
That absence of all sound and movement,
There would come an awareness of sound beyond sound
Stars incinerating themselves?
Cosmic expansion?
The ongoing music of creation?

“And God spoke. . .”

I experience a knowingness
That beyond all the sounds of life on earth
And beyond all the noise of my own inner world
God still speaks.

In the Cosmos and in the heart,
God can be heard.
In stillness.
In silence.

Gratitude List:
1.  Learning the poetry of my mother, Ruth Slabaugh Weaver, and my grandmother, Lura Lauver Slabaugh.   Experiencing the wisdom and beauty of the voices of the women who have come before me, my mother and grandmothers, my friends who have paved such incredible pathways.  (And for my father, for pulling out this poem for my birthday, for poetically suggesting that my mother may have been hearing my own music emerging as she wrote this poem in the year before I was born.)
2.  Cicadas
3.  Staying afloat
4.  So many words, so many stories
5.  The imagination of chidren

May we walk in Music, Silence, Stillness, Beauty.