Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas to blog friends and strangers, and a little note of welcome and consolation

Dear blogging friends,

A joyous Christmas to you! I'm grateful for your presence in my life, for your visits with and without comments, and for your blogging, wherever you are on Earth. Thank you for your friendship, for inspiring me, for keeping me informed, for making me laugh. Whether or not you celebrate Christmas, I hope this day has been a happy and peaceful one for you.

If you are a new visitor to this blog and just stopping by, remember that you are a precious human being, no matter who you are. Nobody can take away your fundamental dignity and worth, even on those days when it feels as if this has happened.

If the holidays are difficult for you, remember that you are not alone. Seek out others, formally or informally, whether they have two legs or four.

If you cannot pray or meditate and are in despair or emptiness, know that this has happened to the best and most holy of people, and that absence can turn to presence. Find the words of others (the ones below are only examples; there are others) and let them accompany you. Or stand near a tree and touch it, breathing, remembering that you are a creature of earth and that somewhere, another part of creation has remembered you.

We Did Not Want It Easy, God

We did not want it easy, God,
But we did not contemplate
That it would be quite this hard,
This long, this lonely.
So, if we are to be turned inside out,
and upside down,
With even our pockets shaken
Just to check what's rattling
And left behind,
We pray that you will keep faith with us,
And we with you,
Holding our hands as we weep,
Giving us strength to continue,
And showing us beacons
Along the way
To becoming new.

*****-Anna McKenzie

Peace Is Every Step

Peace is every step.
The shining red sun is my heart.
Each flower smiles with me.
How green, how fresh all that grows.
How cool the wind blows.
Peace is every step.
It turns the endless path to joy.

*****- -Thich Nhat Hanh

receive our love and worship.
Show us how to give you what we have,
for nothing is too big or too small
for us to offer, or for you to use.

*****- A New Zealand Prayer Book

All of these are quoted in When in Doubt, Sing: Prayer in Daily Life.

Mary, Joseph, and the infant Jesus, ca. 1970s, "Black Nativity," National Center of Afro-American Artists, Boston.


Diane said...

thank you for these quotes. and your very pastoral thoughts.

I would like to know where I can can hold of a New Zealand Prayer book. Is it difficult to find?

Jane R said...

Dear Diane,

HarperCollins (the NYC home base, not HarperSanFrancisco, though at the very top it's the same people) brought out a U.S. edition of the NZPB in the late 1990s or thereabouts. I have seen it on a lot of shelves (it seems to be a lot of U.S. Episcopal clergy's second Prayer Book :-))so I expect you could find it pretty easily. If it has been selling, you know it's still available in these United States... Ah - I see it's still on . But you could also order it from your local church bookstore or independent bookstore; all they have to do is look it up in Books in Print. Let me know if any of this works. It's a lovely book - and check out some of the language for the assurance of forgiveness. (I love the very brief formula in one of the services: "God forgives you. Forgive others. Forgive yourself.") I think they will work nicely in your Lutheran context.

Kitten said...

Very lovely post, Jane. I really enjoyed your words of comfort. Very much needed in today's tough times for many people.

I hope you and Maya had a lovely holiday. Merry Christmas!

Magdalene6127 said...

Jane, thank you for this lovely post. A Blessed Christmas to you!