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Archive for December, 2017

New year chapter one, new start concept

This day begins with it’s end in view … with the start of tomorrow, a new year is also in view.

This change of a year in a day causes our thoughts to drift back, to drift forward in a constant hither and thither movement.

We look back, over the past twelve months, and smile at the times that have left an eternity of warm and pleasant memories for us to live the rest of our lives. We also look back and sights we remember what we wish we could forget, what we wish had not been part of the narrative of this past year.

But we also look forward, with the hope of Anne of Green Gables, who stated:

“Tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet.”

So, as we prepare to bid adieu to 2017, let us hope and dream, let us love and squeeze every bit of opportunity to do well to our fellow Earth travellers, to inhale the wonder of each new day, and to not waste a breath we have been so graciously given.

The Year
(Ella Wheeler Wilcox)

What can be said in New Year rhymes,
That’s not been said a thousand times?

The new years come, the old years go,
We know we dream, we dream we know.

We rise up laughing with the light,
We lie down weeping with the night.

We hug the world until it stings,
We curse it then and sigh for wings.

We live, we love, we woo, we wed,
We wreathe our brides, we sheet our dead.

We laugh, we weep, we hope, we fear,
And that’s the burden of the year.

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blogAfter being awakened, far too early, by my torturer (aka, the Wonder Dog) I sat watching the sky to show signs of morning moving aside the darkness of night, my phone dinged an incoming text.

A sweet lady I know was awake when she received a notification, by email, of a blog post from itsawonderfilledlife, and she let me know that she felt she could hear my voice saying it’s words, telling it’s message, to just her.

The most common question I get about this site is,

“How do you have time to write a blog?”

To which I would say, I just do it.

The real question isn’t how? The real question is, why? For if the answer to why feeds some part of us, the how is redundant, for we do not starve ourselves from that which nourishes our souls.

A couple of years ago I wrote about my writing as being what I leave for my kids, in the post, Writing as a Legacy. I have also written about my purpose in Why do I write this Blog? In that post I wrote:

“Although there is great jesting in my house about my desire for Oprah to discover me, really, I write for me. This little corner of the cyber world is where I connect with God, where I process my hurts, where I share my celebrations, and where I just get it all out. For me, itsawonderfilledlife is my hairdresser, my bartender, my shrink. And, you who read are the flies on the wall.”

I do write, primarily, to leave a legacy for my children, and I do write because it is a place where I can be the real me, as I share my successes and failures, and my insights on them. Because we all have such insights …

We all live in the mundane, the magical and mayhem of real life. We all experience love and hate. We all have given forgiveness, and been given forgiveness. We all strive, fall and have to face the reality that we must get back up again. We all have times of being full with life, and times of struggle to get out of bed.

And that, is life … real life.

I simply give words to it all.

It is not unusual to receive messages from people like these:

“I so needed to hear what you wrote.”

“I am going through the same thing.”

“Thanks for sharing your heart.”

“I needed those words today.”

I write … for my kids, for myself.

And I hope that my words of love and loss, success and failure, laughter and weeping, joy and struggle touch you, the reader. Whether the stats show that there were two views, or two hundred, on any given day.

No matter the number of views, it’s the comments, emails, messages and texts in the wee hours of the morning that tell me this isn’t just about me (or even my kids). This is what God does when we offer him the little we have, and he works though our little, to multiply his love into all of our stories.

 

 

 

 

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As I looked across the table, last Friday, at the birthday boy, I realized that this was a different Christmas indeed.

With hubby on a medical leave, there was a palatable absence of something …

busyness.

Though hubby is tired (so tired), he is not pre-occupied. The ring of his phone, the ding of a text or email is silent, peaceful. He is not rushing off to … anything.

Our most difficult decision on Christmas Eve was, where to attend church. For hubby, being with groups of people are fatiguing, so I chose a small Anglican church, offering a “Holy Eucharist with Candlelight”. It was to be a first time experience.

As we entered the small sanctuary, we sat in two of the last available seats, one in front of the other, and the service began. It was traditional, liturgical … probably the same as it had been done there for much of it’s over one hundred years.

And there was comfort in it’s traditions, that have stood the test of time.

Looking toward the front, my eyes and mind were captivated by the large stained glass window at the back. The focal image was that of Jesus, holding a lamb … the Good Shepherd. It reminded me of a similar stained glass window in the church my grandmother had attended, and I remember, so fondly, from my childhood.

I am not sure if the one speaking recognized the significance of her homily, when she began by describing the shepherds … in the Christmas pageant held earlier.

According to Wonderololis the profession of shepherd is probably one of the oldest professions, and practiced all over our world. They work long hours,  roaming deserted countrysides, enduring all forms of weather, and always needing to be on the alert for predators, who seek to destroy the sheep in their care. Plus, by all accounts, sheep are … not very intuitive (aka, they are thick as a brick).

The work of the shepherd can be long, tiring, lonely.

The term shepherd can also be attributed to those in the role of pastor, priest, minister. They too can experience their task to be long, tiring and lonely … especially at this high expectation and busy season of Christmas.

When Jesus is described as the Good Shepherd, the Greek word, kalos, is used, and it means noble, wholesome. It is a goodness that comes from the inside out, not a behaviour but character. In a sense Jesus is a shepherd unlike any other, real or metaphorically. For he was not just born for this role, but conceived for it.

The Good Shepherd,

  • who lays down His life for the sheep (John 10:11)
  • tends His flock … gathers the lambs and carries them in His bosom (Isaiah 40:11)
  • he calls his own sheep by name … and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice (John 10:3-4)

He is the true Good Shepherd, who leads his flock in the power and grace specifically given to him.

All others (even priests, pastors and the like) are followers … sheep in need of the shepherd … and he carries us close, knows our names and gave his life for us.

 

 

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We have shopped, and decorated, and baked, and travelled, and wrapped, and dreamed, and planned, and partied, and ordered, and sung, and …

it is here … it is the night of our dear Saviour’s birth.

As Christmas Eve dawned today, all that has been done is done. The grand event to celebrate has come, and our weary world rejoices.

It is not just those of us who celebrate this Christmas season amongst shiny paper, excessive gifting and glutenous behaviours around the table, for whom he came so that the soul felt its worth. Christ came for all the weary world … and his only bling was a star sweetly gleaming.

On this eve of a new and glorious morn, I cannot imagine any better message than that gives the world reason to rejoice more than Luke 2:8-12:

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:

“Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

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This Christmas season, writing this blog has been more challenging. So, I have (mostly) re-posted my cheerier Christmas words from years past.

I didn’t want to put a damper on the season of hope, joy, love and faith.

With the joy of a new job and co-workers I love, came the loss of a large community that I adored. With our kids growing and starting new adventures, comes the end of their need of me. With hubby being on a medical leave that stretches into the new year, comes more question marks about the future, than certainty.

Then I read an article called Celebrating Christmas with a Broken Heart. Towards the end of the article, the author, Brittany Salmon, wrote:

“Believer, God came to earth to make broken things whole. It’s okay for you to be broken this holiday season because of the baby in the manger.”

The Christmas season does not simply celebrate picture-perfect nativities, with clean animals, angels, a contented baby and peaceful new parents. It is the bloody mess of a baby born to an unwed mother, a homeless family in a strange town. It is the story that begins in blood and must end that way … to redeem the mess of humanity.

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The words that Jesus spoke to his disciples the night before his death, echo in our hearts in the Christmas season. You see Christmas is not Christmas without Easter.

We are not made holy by Jesus’ conception,
but in his crucifixion. 

And his crucifixion was the once for all blood sacrifice, to make the broken things of our lives whole. To make us whole … even when we are cracked, bruised and broken. Even when we are lonely, weak and wandering. Even when our past is past and our future uncertain.

And so, in brokenness, I will look to that babe in the manger, who came to overcome the world … and make my broken heart whole.

 

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18642I remember a Christmas ‘pageant’ where I did a ‘recitation’ when I was still a preschooler. It was at the church of my grandmother, and it was she who taught the poem to me. I remember how very many people were staring back at me (the church probably doesn’t hold more than seventy people, but as a preschooler, it seemed like hundreds). I also remember her voice whispering the lines to me (memorizing has never been a strength for me).

The poem I had recited many years ago, was the final verse of a poem written by Christina Rossetti. Later music was added and it is known as the Christmas carol ‘In the Bleak Midwinter’. The poem goes as follows:

In the bleak midwinter frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone:
Snow had fallen, snow on snow
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter,
Long ago.

Our God, heaven cannot hold him nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away when he comes to reign:
In the bleak mid-winter
A stable-place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty
Jesus Christ.

Enough for him, whom cherubim worship night and day,
A breastful of milk, and a mangerful of hay:
Enough for him, whom angels
Fall down before,
The ox and ass and camel
Which adore.

Angels and archangels may have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim thronged the air –
But only his mother
In her maiden bliss
Worshipped the beloved
With a kiss.

What can I give him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd I would bring a lamb;
If I were a wise man
I would do my part;
Yet what I can, I give him –
Give my heart.

The final (bolded) lines are from my recitation of many years ago (the fact that this is called a ‘recitation’ is evidence of that fact). And, although I was not so very successful at memorizing them, they have stayed with me for all of my life. There is something beautiful, dreamy and haunting about both the poem, and the music that was added to it. I have to say my favorite version is by Sarah McLaughlin, a few years ago, on her Wintersong CD.

Although this is not just a question of Christmas, I am asking myself this season the same question that Ms. Rossetti asked of herself. What can I give him, poor as I am?

If I were a poet, I would write him a song.
If I were a carpenter, I would build him a home,
If I were …
But all he wants,
Is my heart,
And your heart too.

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Listening to a Christmas CD, I have found myself repeating a song I had listened to many times, yet had never really heard.

As Josh Groban’s voice fills my vehicle with the Latin words that shared how the poor and humble servant would be satiated by the gift from heaven, my thoughts drifted to Christmas.

Panis Angelicus,  (bread of angels or bread of heaven) was written by Thomas Aquinas in the twelve hundreds, as part of a communion-themed hymn called Sacris Solemniis.

In English, the lyrics are as follows:

Heavenly bread

That becomes the bread for all mankind;
Bread from the angelic host
That is the end of all imaginings;
Oh, miraculous thing!
This body of God will nourish
Even the poorest,
The most humble of servants.
Even the poorest,
The most humble of servants.
 
Heavenly bread
That becomes the bread for all mankind;
Bread from the angelic host
That is the end of all imaginings;
Oh, miraculous thing!
This body of God will nourish
Even the poorest,
The most humble of servants.
Even the poorest,
The most humble of servants.

Heavenly bread … like the manna, provided to the Israelites, by God himself, in the desert. The Israelites, complaining about the menu, forgetting from the bondage that they left when lead into the desert (perhaps a desert is not so dry and desolate).

Like manna from heaven, God send his Son to Earth. Like the Israelites who wandered in the desert, we too live our lives as if our existence is in a dry and desolate place. We too complain, not because we are starving, but because we want more than just sustenance, we strive to icing on the cake (our cake). We desire more, more, more, of all that does not satisfy.

We have within reach, even in our grasp, the bread of heaven, through the Christ child, yet me look beyond him to what is temporary. It is as though we look straight through him, all the while crying for more.

Perhaps we have too much.

Perhaps we need to be the most humble, the poorest of servants before we can be truly filled with this bread of heaven, this Christmas, and every day.

Our fathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’
Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
Then they said to Him, “Lord, give us this bread always.”
 And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.”
John 6:31-35

 

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