“The stillness of the universe is a dance of barefoot grace with the Creator,

a silence alive with cosmic joy and mystery.”

–Marilyn Brown Oden from Manger and Mystery.  

Alpenglow. Dec. 15, 2015, Harrisonburg, Virginia

My spiritual director reminded me yesterday, in the midst of holiday stress, to take Sacred Pauses.

We had already witnessed that morning an amazing sunrise, she from her house, and I from mine. The picture above illustrates the beauty of living between two mountain ranges. The pink light does not emanate from the mountain itself.

It’s a reflection (called alpenglow) of a brilliant sunrise over the eastern range (Blue Ridge) opposite.

We in the Shenandoah Valley below enjoy God’s paintbrush in new ways as the sun rises over one range and sets behind the other.

But it’s only there for us when we pause to take it in.

In Advent, Christians are reminded to wait in darkness for the coming Light. A star will guide us. Hate and violence may surround us, but love will triumph. We hold this promise lightly, fearfully, joyously.

We search the heavens. We sing.

Listen as these singers from Calvary Mennonite Church Chorus sing about a beautiful star. This pure a cappella sound is the sound of my childhood and continues to resonate in my body as I anticipate singing it again tonight with members of my own congregation tonight.

I hope this post offers you a sacred pause in a busy season

no matter what your own religious tradition may be.

As we search for Light, these words may help us relax:

“A strange mysterious paradox resides within this search for God…. In the end you discover that all your searching is but a reflex action to God’s initiative—a God who has sought you all your life.”

–Ben Campbell Johnson from Calming the Restless Spirit.

How do you take sacred pauses in this holiday season? Do you have any rituals or practices that help you? I hope you won’t keep them to yourself. Please share below.

Postscript added Dec. 17, after a Christmas party at our house. This is not a choir, just some ordinary Mennonites blending their voices in four parts. One of our group enjoys leading music. We all enjoy singing. After we sang a number of carols and advent hymns, we all walked out on the deck where stars and the moon were visible. We prayed for our troubled world as we sang out our hope. In the video you will see two emblems of Christmas we treasure: the Moravian Star on our front porch, visible through the window, and the nativity scene from Haiti, where we lived 1980-81.

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