Posts Tagged ‘Myers Park Baptist Church – Charlotte NC

15
May
19

5.15.19 … “Not only is the Universe stranger than we think, but it is also stranger than we can think.”

“Solvitur Ambulando” – It is solved by walking, 2019 Labyrinth Walks, Myers Park Baptist Church-Charlotte NC:

Sometimes I just need labyrinth time with a labyrinth friend. Thank you, Toni!

As we drove to and from MPBC, we talked about multiple intelligences, reading, Jonathan Haidt, technology overload, TMBS, Barbara Brown Taylor’s Holy Envy, and of course labyrinths …

As we approached we noticed children on the labyrinth. One almost 4 year old was riding in circles on the labyrinth.

The day was glorious. The sky was blue with whispy clouds. The weather was cool and the bright green leaves provided almost complete shade to the labyrinth. The birds were chattering. And there was a large colony of tiny ants crawling out from the center Chartres stone.

My reverie was broken by the roar of the chainsaw in the distance.

My thoughts kept focusing on the tall oaks. I wondered how water can travel up from the roots to the trees’ top leaves.

I then I watched a very pregnant mom walk by with two little ones in her stroller, talking on her phone through ear buds. I wondered if she ever allowed herself quiet time.

I heard several planes overhead and noticed their tail in the sky.

And then both Toni and I noticed the honking birds flying above … there were 4 of them flying in what appeared to be synchronized routine … then they cawed, definitely crows.

And here is my quote for today …

“Not only is the Universe stranger than we think, but it is also stranger than we can think… What we observe is not nature itself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning… The first gulp from the glass of natural sciences will turn you into an atheist, but at the bottom of the glass God is waiting for you.”

~Werner Heisenberg (father of the uncertainty principle & quantum mechanics)

5.15.19

18
Apr
19

4.18.19 … “Do this in remembrance of me.”

“Solvitur Ambulando” – It is solved by walking, 2019 Lenten Labyrinth Walks (39/40), Myers Park Baptist Church-Charlotte NC:

Today is Maundy Thursday. I never heard the term “Maundy Thursday” until I was dating my husband John in college. He grew up in a traditional Presbyterian Church in Louisville KY, and he knew the term. I grew up in a traditional Presbyterian Church in Atlanta GA and I did not; the term had never been a part of my church vocabulary. Yes, I knew the general story of holy week, but the term “maundy” had never entered my consciousness.

So what does it mean? “Maundy” is an Anglo-French word derived from the Latin “mandatum,” which means “commandment,” and refers to when Jesus, in the Upper Room during the Last Super, said to the disciples: “A new commandment I give you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” (John 13:34). Others say the mandate was the Lord’s Supper: “Do this in remembrance of me.”

I love James Howell’s post today about the group of African Christians who followed him into the “upper room” in Jerusalem last week. They came in joyously singing. Last year James noted in his Maundy Thursday post that Matthew 26:30 tells us that, at the Last Supper on Maundy Thursday, the disciples sang hymns together. I had never thought about the disciples singing the Psalms that evening until I put the two posts together this morning.

So what do I believe Jesus commanded me to do on Maundy Thursday?

1. Love my neighbor

2. Participate in community … take care of each other, wash feet.

3. Eat together and share the food, the bread and the wine, and the experience.

4. Participate in holy communion and “Do this in remembrance of me”

5. Live joyously

Whatever the mandate, let’s do it … with solemnity, joy, sorrow and hope.

I decided on a morning walk today. The sun was streaming, and it was amazing how green everything has become. In the last week to 10 days, all the trees have leafed out and it is glorious.

The lower half of the labyrinth was in shade this morning and the other half in full sun. Although I heard construction and lawn crews working in the distance, they were not on this campus yet. I am sure they will be scurrying about blowing and raking and mowing later today. With all the rain we have had, I was amazed that the pollen had not been washed away. There was lots of pollen and a light coating of yellow on the labyrinth.

As I finished my walk, a light breeze passed by me, over me, through me. It was a spirit moment.

Be still …

4.18.19

And I just saw this …

09
Apr
19

4.9.19 … “There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance”

“Solvitur Ambulando” – It is solved by walking, 2019 Lenten Labyrinth Walks (34/40), Myers Park Baptist Church-Charlotte NC:

I knew beforehand that this walk would be a hurried walk. I had hoped to walk all three painted concrete Chartres labyrinths today created by Tom Schulz in Charlotte, but I will save that adventure for another day.

It was raining as I drove to the labyrinth, but had stopped by the time I had arrived. My mind jumped around as I began my walk. I will be giving the devotion for a group at church later. Easter is late so the flowering trees and bushes will be different … will the dogwoods be gone? Azaleas? Snowballs? The lawn crews were out. I assume their work is more difficult after the downpours we had yesterday. And there are lots of cars in the parking lot …

So I made myself look down and focus on here and now … I tried to slow down, but I found myself cutting corners, something I rarely do. I told myself to focus.

The labyrinth was damp, and there was pollen still on the surface, but not too much. I inhaled deeply and first I smelled the freshly mowed grass and then the rosemary.

“There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance; pray, love, remember; and there is pansies, that’s for thoughts…

There’s fennel for you, and columbines; there’s rue for you, and here’s some for me; we may call it herb of grace o’ Sundays. O, you must wear your rue with a difference. There’s a daisy. I would give you some violets, but they wither’d all when my father died. They say he made a good end,— [Sings.]

“For bonny sweet Robin is all my joy.”

― William Shakespeare, Hamlet

And congrats to UVA, 2019 NCAA basketball champions. I loved it that someone dressed Hugh celebrating.

4.9.19

27
Mar
19

3.27.19 … “ Even if our stories are different, broken, bruised and skinned hearts recognize each other, and when they come together they have the power to heal and create change.”

“Solvitur Ambulando” – It is solved by walking, 2019 Lenten Labyrinth Walks (22/40), Myers Park Baptist Church-Charlotte NC:

I am agitated today and I really don’t know why. It could be the news… The continuous banter about the Mueller Report or the Jussie Smollett case in Chicago or the suicides of two Pakland FL teen survivors and of a Sandy Hook parent …

I thought of the Mary Oliver poem that Parker Palmer posted on social media today:

The Poet Dreams of the Mountain

Sometimes I grow weary of the days, with all their fits and starts.

I want to climb some old gray mountains, slowly, taking

The rest of my lifetime to do it, resting often, sleeping

Under the pines or, above them, on the unclothed rocks.

I want to see how many stars are still in the sky

That we have smothered for years now, a century at least.

I want to look back at everything, forgiving it all,

And peaceful, knowing the last thing there is to know.

All that urgency! Not what the earth is about!

How silent the trees, their poetry being of themselves only.

I want to take slow steps, and think appropriate thoughts.

In ten thousand years, maybe, a piece of the mountain will fall.

-Mary Oliver

And of this from Brene Brown:

Last month, I made my second trip to Newtown to do some work with the Sandy Hook community. Jeremy and Jen started the Avielle Foundation to honor their daughter, Avielle, who was one of the 20 children and six adults murdered in the 2012 school shooting. The Avielle Foundation invited me to be a part of their speaker series on brain health and violence prevention.

Jeremy died of an apparent suicide yesterday. I feel heartbroken and gutted.

But I won’t look away. And, I ask that you continue to look pain in the eye.

We absolutely need to lean into the joy, laughter, beauty, love, and connection in our lives. As much and as often as we can.

And, when called, we need to stand with those in pain. We need to make sure that when we see a heart breaking, we bare our own broken heart and stand together so we know that, even in the midst of struggle, we’re not alone.

Even if our stories are different, broken, bruised and skinned hearts recognize each other, and when they come together they have the power to heal and create change.

So with these melancholy thoughts swirling in my head, I ventured out this afternoon and drove down Memory Lane, i.e. I drove past our first home on Sharon Road, 2247 Sharon Road. As I drove by that house and into Myers Park, I realized what a beautiful place Charlotte is, and I felt my blood pressure begin to go down. The pink and white blooming cherry trees were magnificent today, and there were even a few dogwood trees beginning to bloom.

I pulled up at the labyrinth tucked behind Myers Park Baptist and realized that I had timed my walk very poorly. There were multiple lawn management crew members blowing, trimming and mowing … c’est la vie!

Of course right when I opened my door, one of the men began blowing the labyrinth free of all debris, just for me. I think he tried to hurry and then go as far away as possible to give me some peace. That may be just positive spin on my part.

It looked as if they tried to power wash this labyrinth and instead it has made the painting difficult to see. I imagine it would not be easy on a rainy day. However, I could clearly see the path in today’s sunshine.

I heard emergency sirens in the background, but barely, since the blowers and trimmers and mowers predominated my walk.

And as I walked I clutched my new key, a small thing that I am grateful for… the ignition on our 22-year-old Mercedes that was a gift from john’s mother after his father died went out recently. It was very expensive to repair, but we just could not give the car up yet. It is a link to the past, a sturdy and generally reliable link to the past. When the dealer returned the car to me yesterday, he gave me two new keys including a remote control key. So now, for the first time since I have been driving the car, I have a remote control key and that makes me very happy because I feel much safer.

Other thoughts for today …

Last spring I saw the 2018 “A Wrinkle in Time” 3 times and I never decided my verdict on the film … but I certainly never saw it in this light …

It strikes me that “A Wrinkle in Time” is a Lenten story. Christians give themselves intentional space during Lent to reflect not only on our sin sickness, but also on the hurt we suffer because of the sin sickness of others. Lent is a time to be honest about our fragility, our imperfections and our wounds. Lent reminds us that God’s light conquered sin’s darkness when Jesus was crucified and then rose again. In Jesus’ wounds, we find healing. In our own wounds, we experience the love of God. May our wounds be the places where God’s light can enter in and heal.

Source: Lent: Reckoning with wounds – The Presbyterian Outlook,

https://pres-outlook.org/2018/03/lent-reckoning-with-wounds/

3.27.19

2019 Lenten Lists: Cars I’ve Owned/Loved

1. My mom’s little blue Opel

2. White Sunbird

3. Gray Ford old lady car

4. John’s blue 1964 TR 4A

5. 1986 VW Jetta sedan

6. 1989 Volvo 240 station wagon

7. John’s 1991 Japanese sedan (Honda Accord, maybe?)

8. 1994 Mercury Villager minivan

9. 2000 Volvo V70 wagon*

10. 2004 Volvo V90 SUV*

11. 1997 Mercedes Benz E420*

12. 2000 Volvo V70 wagon – tan interior*

*currently own

15
Mar
19

3.15.19 … who who who who who who …

Solvitur Ambulando” – It is solved by walking, 2019 Lenten Labyrinth Walks (10/40), Myers Park Baptist Church-Charlotte NC:

It was very warm, 60°ish, when I walked today at 6:30 AM. Because we just began DST last Sunday, it was very dark at this hour.

The birds were just going wild. I don’t know if it’s because I was walking the labyrinth with a flashlight or if they are normally this active this early in the morning. I must admit that I am not usually out at this time of day.

There was a lot of noise in the city this morning. I heard spurts of commuters as they drive along Selwyn Road and nearby Sharon Road. Because this labyrinth is dimly lit, I realized that I was easily distracted if I did not totally focus on the path. As a matter fact, I missed one of the early turns and ended up at the entrance again. That is life.

And as I left, I heard one more chorus of the birds, and then I heard a very loud owl … who who who who who who … (What’s that sound? 7 wildlife calls you might hear in your backyard | MNN – Mother Nature Networkhttps://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/animals/stories/whats-that-sound-7-wildlife-calls-you-might-hear-in-your-backyard)

Immediately afterward, I went to my Friday The Red Boot Way meeting.

Elaine summarized it well, “It was a joyyful and thoughtful The Red Boot Way meeting on transparency, humanity, shame, forgiveness, and how these meetings have empowered me to look at myself and other with compassion and acceptance.”

I talked about the book I’m reading, Lisa Saunders’ “Even at the Grave.” Death is a universal experience, and yet, I have trouble being transparent dealing with death.

That’s all I got!

3.15.19

2019 Lenten Lists: The Red Boot Way Steps

The Red Boot Way Steps

Step One: I am essential to myself, my family, and my community. I matter.

Step Two: I possess the power to positively influence all those with whom I come into contact. I am empowered.

Step Three: I am wonderfully and imperfectly human, with my own story and experiences. I am transparent.

Step Four: I can choose what and whom I allow to influence my mind, body, and personal environment. I am intentional.

Step Five: I approach those I meet with positive intent and likewise assume they come to me with positive intent. I am open.

Step Six: I am more peaceful and centered when I take time every day to be in stillness. I am grounded.

Step Seven: I humbly put aside my own agenda and listen with my whole heart before responding.  I am present.

Step Eight: I approach my life and those in it with wonder and curiosity.  I am curious.

Step Nine: Expressing gratitude is essential to my well-being and the well-being of my community. I am grateful.

Step Ten: When I practice these steps on a regular basis I gain and experience compassion for myself and others. I am compassionate.

Step Eleven: Living my life as outlined in these eleven steps positively impacts my life and the lives of those around me.  I feel a new and joyful responsibility to serve my community. I am engaged.

06
Mar
19

3.6.19 … “Mamma mia, here I go again. My my, how can I resist you? Mamma mia, does it show again, My my, just how much I’ve missed you?“

“Solvitur Ambulando” – It is solved by walking, 2019 Lenten Labyrinth Walks (1/40), Myers Park Methodist Church Francis Chapel – Charlotte NC, Myers Park Baptist Church-Charlotte NC, Ash Wednesday, Lenten Practices, List making, kith/kin:

So I’m planning my forty 2019 Lenten Labyrinth Walks and this pops into my head ….

Mamma mia, here I go again

My my, how can I resist you?

Mamma mia, does it show again

My my, just how much I’ve missed you?

And at 10 my Davidson roommate and labyrinth walking buddy calls … she’s already walked at Epiphany Catholic Church in Anchorage KY (near Louisville).

I’ve been wondering if anyone else walks daily or weekly during Lent. With the adoption of Lent by many mainstream Protestant denominations there has been a steady increase of including spiritual disciplines and practices in faith formation.

Lent is a good time to begin a new practice of daily or weekly labyrinth walking. The Rev. Dr. Lauren Artress differentiates a practice from a discipline. She says,

“A practice is more flexible than a discipline. A discipline is usually done at a certain time each day. There are specific methods or techniques to enter into it. The practice of labyrinth walking is guided by what you need from the walk. … Use a labyrinth when it calls you. When you want the benefits of a quiet mind, a prayerful heart, a release from controlling behavior, find your way to a labyrinth.” (Artress, 2006, pg. 6)

At Harmony Grove UMC, where I coordinate the Labyrinth Ministry, on occasions I have issued the following invitation.

Start Something New for Lent

“This year don’t give something up for Lent. This year start something new: the spiritual practice of walking the labyrinth daily or weekly.

Source: Ministry Matters™ | Labyrinth Walks for Lent, Holy Week, and Easter,https://www.ministrymatters.com/all/entry/4736/labyrinth-walks-for-lent-holy-week-and-easter

So what else will I do?

1. I will take 40 labyrinth walks

2. I will use multiple devotionals including the Henry Nouwen book and study guide being used by my church and the Myers Park Methodist Lent devotional booklet.

3. I will attend worship at my church.

4. I will pay attention to what my friends post. And ask questions and respond.

5. I will make 40 lists: Lenten Practices and Disciplines, List of lists, gratitude, labyrinth resources, Lenten devotional resources. (This counts as one list)

With pleasant anticipation, I dressed in my Chartres Cathedral polyester silk like scarf and headed out. “Mamma mia, here I go again.”

As I drove to my labyrinth chosen for Walk 1/40, I received telephone call number two from a friend, which in this case happens to be my sister, informing me that she was walking a labyrinth today on Ash Wednesday. And she sent me a picture and told me that her walk at Eastminster Presbyterian Church in Marietta GA had been, “Very Cold. I walked in one foot in front of the other and out backward. Tricky for me. Had to balance and really concentrate.”

(And yes, even our shadows resemble each other!)

Today’s walk was hopefully going to be in the Francis Chapel at Myers Park Methodist Church, the location of my very first Ash Wednesday walk in 2012. Although I knew that there was a delay in opening this new in door permanent stone labyrinth to the public, I still hoped that I would be able to walk privately today as I did several weeks ago with my friend Toni. But that was not to be; the labyrinth and the chapel are inaccessible due to the continued construction in connection with the installation of the new organ.

So I quickly regrouped and headed to Myers Park Baptist Church.

Today‘s walk was a very sensory-filled walk, especially sounds and physical feelings. I heard a jackhammer, a truck backing up, a worker making a whooping noise which I assumed was to alert another worker of danger, and the chimes announcing 11:30 AM at Queens College. I also noticed the cold as it was about 40°. There was a light breeze in blindingly bright sunshine. I always enjoy walking in and out of the sunshine, and today the sun shining live all but one corner of the labyrinth.

A few other observations… The lost child’s princess headband stuck in the lamp sculpture and the very bedraggled rosemary along the edge.

Toward the end I want, I realized that the breeze a very cool breeze, was picking up and I was actually cold. My hands felt icy cold.

After my luck, I continued on my way to my church First Presbyterian Church at Charlotte which was hosting a lunch at noon followed by a Ash Wednesday a position of ashes service says in the small and intimate Good Samaritan Ben Long Fresco Lobby.

The Lobby is worth visiting ..,

Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan was chosen as the subject of the fresco because it deals with a fundamental question of a center city church: “Who is our neighbor?” It symbolizes the mission of First Presbyterian Church to be a witness “For Christ in the Heart of Charlotte” to the thousands of people who live and work in downtown Charlotte.

Immediately upon entering the front doors of the Fellowship Hall, a dramatic image of the Samaritan bending over a beaten and bloodied stranger serves as an important reminder of the intimate relationship between the teachings of Christ and the work we are called to do. It measures 8 feet high and 28 feet long and is painted in the true fresco style of the 15th century masters.

Source: First Presbyterian Church — Ben Long Fine Art,
http://www.benlongfineart.com/first-presbyterian-church

I sat at the luncheon with Pen Perry, our senior minister. And as with the anticipated, we discussed our traditions around Ash Wednesday and Lent. I was significantly older than anyone else at the table, and my traditions around Lent did not happen until after I was 50 years old.

After the luncheon, we proceeded into the Good Samaritan Lobby which was set up intentionally with Pen being included in the community rather than “preaching” from the pulpit. The service was short and impactful, and I left with the ash cross on my hand. When I looked down shortly afterwards, I realized that the mark had at all but disappeared and all I could see was my very wrinkled and old looking hand. “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust” … Actually this line is not in the Bible, but derives from Genesis 3:19 – “By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

After telling one of my children that I had attended an Ash Wednesday Service, he immediately sent me this article. I think mainline denominations are reaching out to nontraditional millennials in both traditional ways reimagined and nontraditional ways in nontraditional places. And funny that my son picked up on this story on the twitter feed of the blogger “Bar Stool Sports” …

If you needed ashes for Ash Wednesday, many churches made it convenient to get it while still going about your normal day’s routine.

On what is a special religious day for Christians, many churches offered “Ashes to Go,” for example, at bus and train stations in the D.C. area, something that is becoming more and more common in today’s fast-paced culture of express delivery, instant meals and live-streaming TV.

In one such instance Wednesday, at the Shady Grove Metro station in Rockville, ashes became available starting at 7 a.m. for those getting on and off their train.

The “Ashes to Go” initiative was launched over a decade ago by an episcopal church in St. Louis. The goal is to pull religion from the pews and bring the Holy Spirit into regular, busy places.

Source: Churches offer ‘Ashes to Go’ for Ash Wednesday at bus, train stations in D.C. area | WJLA, http://wjla.com/news/local/churches-offer-ashes-to-go-ash-wednesday-dc-area

I ran across this article in Presbyterian Outlook recently.

While some Protestants still struggle with what to make of Lent (“Isn’t that a Catholic thing?”), increasingly Presbyterian congregations are seeking creative approaches for making the season meaningful – including giving people opportunities to explore spiritual practices and to bring depth and a sense of community to the weeks leading to Easter.

The practices are varied — from the program Lent 4.5, which focuses on simplicity and caring for the earth; to study groups in which a congregation reads a book together (recent examples include theologian Richard Lischer’s “Stations of the Heart,” about lessons learned through the death of his son, and “Daring Greatly,” in which research scientist Brené Brown explores the value of vulnerability and imperfection); to the exploration of ancient spiritual practices. Last year, for example, Westminster Presbyterian Church in Durham, North Carolina, offered a series of study sessions called “Practicing Life into Wholeness” — exploring spiritual practices including centering prayer, lectio divina and the daily examen.

Source: Lent is for Presbyterians, too: Creative, connectional disciplines – The Presbyterian Outlook, https://pres-outlook.org/2015/02/lent-presbyterians-creative-connectional-disciplines/

And this from my good friend Mary Bowman at Selwyn Avenue Presbyterian here in Charlotte:

In the simplest terms, Lent is 40 days set aside to prepare for Easter – beginning with Ash Wednesday and ending with Holy Saturday (the Saturday before Easter).

Ash Wednesday, also known as the imposition of ashes, derives its name from the practice of placing ashes in the shape of a cross on our foreheads as a reminder that we are temporary beings and it is only God who can conquer death and give the gift of eternal life. In other words, we remember we are finite and sinful (a bit of a mess) and we need God.

Lent, which comes from the Greek word for “fortieth,” is a time for us to focus on our relationship with God and draw closer through self-reflection and spiritual activities such as prayer, meditation, repentance/confession, worship, fasting (giving up something), Scripture reading, serving others, etc. These spiritual “disciplines” allow us to open ourselves to God so we can grow in our faith, in our gratitude for God’s undeserved love, and in our own self-understanding as children of God.

If you are someone who likes to count things, you may realize that there are more than 40 days between Ash Wednesday (March 6) and Easter (April 21). During this serious time of reflection and preparation for Good Friday and Easter, we continue to have mini-Easters (which are Sundays) where we continue to celebrate all the Jesus has done for us. If you are counting the days, the Sundays don’t count because they are an important reminder of the ultimate story.

Source: Our Blog – Lent 101: Let Us Prepare Together, http://www.selwynpres.org/our-blog/lent-101-let-us-prepare-together/

And I must add this:

“Did you not know what the Holy One can do with dust?” I am in a wildly different place than when I wrote those words as part of an Ash Wednesday blessing six years ago, in what would turn out to be my last Lent with Gary. And I can say now: I know what God can do with dust. And I am learning still. As the season of Lent arrives, what blessing do you need to claim from the ashes?

BLESSING THE DUST

All those days

you felt like dust,

like dirt,

as if all you had to do

was turn your face

toward the wind

and be scattered

to the four corners

or swept away

by the smallest breath

as insubstantial—

did you not know

what the Holy One

can do with dust?

This is the day

we freely say

we are scorched.

This is the hour

we are marked

by what has made it

through the burning.

This is the moment

we ask for the blessing

that lives within

the ancient ashes,

that makes its home

inside the soil of

this sacred earth.

So let us be marked

not for sorrow.

And let us be marked

not for shame.

Let us be marked

not for false humility

or for thinking

we are less

than we are

but for claiming

what God can do

within the dust,

within the dirt,

within the stuff

of which the world

is made

and the stars that blaze

in our bones

and the galaxies that spiral

inside the smudge

we bear.

—Jan Richardson

from Circle of Grace: A Book of Blessings for the Seasons

Image: “Ash Wednesday Cross” © Jan Richardson

janrichardsonimages.com

Mamma mia, here I go again

My my, how can I resist you?

Mamma mia, does it show again

My my, just how much I’ve missed you?

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust …

3.6.19

20
Dec
18

12.20.18 … “be still and know I am God” …

Christmas Tradition #13: Acknowledging the Longest Night

In an earlier post (see below), I noted the connection between the winter solstice and Advent/Christmas. I have always had a love for the Christmas holidays, but as I have reached the end of an era, middle age, I realize that not everyone has wonderful holiday memories, and even if one does, they have experienced sorrow from the loss of a loved one, one lost because of the death or separation, and this loss has darkened the experience. And the darkness of the season often worsens the suffering of people dealing with depression and addiction. In addition many people struggle with faith and religion in their lives, in the church, in their families, in their communities and even in civilization. Add in the long cold dark, it’s no wonder that the “happiest time of the year” for many is the “hardest time of the year” for others.

Many churches, including First Presbyterian Church, now hold A Service of Wholeness and Healing on this night, the longest night. I went a few years back. I’m not really certain why. And I attended again tonight. I want to honor those that need to be acknowledged, those that need remembering and those that I need to remember and to remind myself of the beauty in the community that celebrates joy and giving.

I found this today by Jan Richardson, a Methodist minister:

A blessing for you, for the Winter Solstice. If you are traveling through a season of shadows, or know someone who is, this is for you. (And a blessed Summer Solstice to my friends in the Southern Hemisphere!)

BLESSING FOR THE LONGEST NIGHT

All throughout these months,

as the shadows

have lengthened,

this blessing has been

gathering itself,

making ready,

preparing for

this night.

It has practiced

walking in the dark,

traveling with

its eyes closed,

feeling its way

by memory,

by touch,

by the pull of the moon

even as it wanes.

So believe me

when I tell you

this blessing will

reach you,

even if you

have not light enough

to read it;

it will find you,

even though you cannot

see it coming.

You will know

the moment of its

arriving

by your release

of the breath

you have held

so long;

a loosening

of the clenching

in your hands,

of the clutch

around your heart;

a thinning

of the darkness

that had drawn itself

around you.

This blessing

does not mean

to take the night away,

but it knows

its hidden roads,

knows the resting spots

along the path,

knows what it means

to travel

in the company

of a friend.

So when

this blessing comes,

take its hand.

Get up.

Set out on the road

you cannot see.

This is the night

when you can trust

that any direction

you go,

you will be walking

toward the dawn.

—Jan Richardson

from The Cure for Sorrow: A Book of Blessings for Times of Grief

Afterwards, I went and quickly walked the labyrinth at Myers Park Baptist. It was a dark and stormy night. And I just repeated the Psalm which we communally had said in the First Presbyterian Church’s Service of Wholeness and Healing: “Be still and know that I am God.”

And I am repeating this quoted material from my earlier post on the relation between Advent and pagan festivals celebrating Winter Solstice because I think it significant.

“But when I began to study the ancient Celtic tradition, and its keen awareness of humanity’s deep, inner connections with the rhythms of the natural world, I began to slowly realize how beautifully aligned the symbolism of the Advent season is to the imagery of the natural season leading to the Winter Solstice — the play of light and dark, the waiting, even a kind of deep and prophetic longing.

For the word “advent” literally means “the coming,” and, in this sense, these weeks in December are indeed a time of advent for all of us — whether we consider ourselves religious or not. The light is coming. All of Creation — and we — wait together for that coming.

What a not-to-be-missed treasure the natural season of Advent can be then, when the nascent light inside each of us can turn to, and answer, the promises of light surrounding us everywhere in the December dark: the whisper of candlelight from darkened windows, the blue-black light of dusk against the silhouetted trees of winter.

This is Advent — when as sleepers we awaken to our own light of love deep within us, waiting to be reborn again in the dark stables of our own souls.”

Source: Finding Ancient (Pagan) Meaning in the Darkness of Advent | The On Being Project, https://onbeing.org/blog/finding-ancient-pagan-meaning-in-the-darkness-of-advent/

Again, I repeat, “Be still and know that I am God.”

12.20.18

And here is another blog post I think worthy of your time:

Tomorrow marks the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year. Or the longest night. Many churches have “Longest Night” services during Advent, remembering those who grieve a loss during this season.

 It’s not a coincidence that Christmas falls so close to this longest night. We have no idea on which day Jesus was born. In the fourth century, when the calendar of the Roman empire was being Christianized, they picked December 25, which for pagans was the feast of Sol Invictus, the “unconquered sun,” which began at this point to rise more forcefully day by day, not defeated by the darkness. Probably a bit of calendar confusion, as for them the 25th was that longest night. Christians linked this idea of ever-lengthening day to Christ.




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