The Gift of Peace — Sacred Pauses — in a Frenzied Season

“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.

Shirley Showalter

34 Comments

  1. Elfrieda Schroeder on December 16, 2015 at 2:16 pm

    Thank you, Shirley, for sharing from your tradition. I didn’t know this song until our youngest daughter’s husband joined our family. They sing it every Christmas at their family get together. I love it!

    • Shirley Showalter on December 16, 2015 at 2:27 pm

      Thanks for hopping on board the conversation right away, Elfrieda. I think this Beautiful Star song was more a Shenandoah Valley tradition than a Lancaster County one. My husband says it’s in The Harmonia Sacra hymnal, a classic.

      May your celebrations ring with the music of your own past, those lovely German chorales, as well as the traditions of your grafted family members. Merry Christmas!

  2. Laurie Buchanan on December 16, 2015 at 3:40 pm

    Shirley — Thank you so much for gifting your readers with this lovely piece from the Calvary Mennonite Church Choir. A beautiful sacred pause.

    One of the ways I take a sacred pause is the through “Naikan” ‚ The Japanese Art of Gratitude and Grace. In a nutshell, you focus on a specific person and reflect on three questions:

    (1) What have I received from this person?
    (2) What have I given to this person?
    (3) What difficulties have I caused this person?

    In doing we, we come to understand that if there is a “balance sheet” (so to speak) we have received much more than we have given.

    • Shirley Showalter on December 16, 2015 at 10:59 pm

      I was hoping you would have a beautiful practice to share with us, Laurie. You never let me down! What a call to developing empathy and imagination. We can’t answer questions like these without entering into someone else’s experience. Mary Karr talks about zipping the reader into your skin. Here is an invitation to do the zipping yourself.

      You are so generous with others. The balance sheet tilts in your favor.

    • Merril Smith on December 17, 2015 at 5:11 pm

      I love this, Laurie!

      • Laurie Buchanan on December 18, 2015 at 3:32 am

        Merril – I’m so glad it resonated with you. Thank you for letting me know.

  3. Richard Gilbert on December 16, 2015 at 4:31 pm

    I love your words here, Shirley, especially the concept of sacred pauses. And what a stunning photograph! I’ve noticed when we’re in Virginia how the mountains lend a special quality to the light, air, and the views.

    • Shirley Showalter on December 16, 2015 at 11:05 pm

      Richard, thanks especially for noting the interrelatedness of the mountains, the air, the light, and the views. The views are obvious and wonderful, but I hadn’t thought of how density of the mountains and light in the air interact before. I’ll pay more attention because of this comment. Thank you.

  4. Marian Beaman on December 16, 2015 at 10:23 pm

    I took at least two sacred pauses today. This afternoon I read this post and listened to Oh Beautiful Star. Even before I clicked on the link, I knew how the music would sound in 4-part harmony. Oh, the innocence and earnestness of those Mennonite youth. I noticed the prayer caps were opaque and oddly shaped, a different “flavor” of Mennonite.

    Then this evening, on a second reading I paid attention to the theme which April Yamasaki expresses so well. How fortunate for those who can call her pastor.

    Now I will take a long sacred pause and head to bed after a long, hectic day. It’s 9:21 p.m.

    This is a powerful post. Tomorrow I want to do a better job of pausing to breathe, pray, be . . .

  5. Shirley Showalter on December 16, 2015 at 11:14 pm

    So glad you found sustenance here, Marian, as I so often do when I read your posts. Yes, April Yamasaki has touched many lives with the gracious book SACRED PAUSES.

    Yes, those singers are innocent and earnest. Probably our ability to hear their spirits in the music comes from a little dose of hiraeth. 🙂

  6. Elfrieda Schroeder on December 16, 2015 at 11:43 pm

    What is hiraeth?

  7. Marian Beaman on December 17, 2015 at 2:37 am

    Hello, Elfrieda, I’ll jump in here because Shirley noticed the word on my post yesterday – hiraeth, a Welsh word referring to memories or longings for home. The link will give you the complete definition, a rather longish one: http://plainandfancygirl.com/2015/12/16/moments-of-discovery-whats-inside-moms-buffet/

    • Shirley Showalter on December 17, 2015 at 1:30 pm

      Thanks, Marian, and Elfrieda, I hope you check out Marian’s post also. It’s great.

  8. Joan Rough on December 17, 2015 at 11:58 am

    Shirley, Reading your post and listening to the choir is definitely a Sacred Pause for me. My most frequent Sacred Pauses are in the form of a brief walk with my dogs first thing in the morning as the sun is beginning to rise. This morning in the rain, the neighborhood was especially quiet except for a flock of robins, excited by their breakfast finds in still green lawns. Last night we went out to the Louisa Art Center, to hear Judy Collins sing her most remembered songs along with Christmas Carols. Even as she ages her voice lifted me up and brought peace to this very crazy week.

    I’m wishing you and yours a glorious Christmas and a wonderful New Year.

    • Shirley Showalter on December 17, 2015 at 1:47 pm

      I love the Judy Collins Christmas album. So glad you could hear her sing in person. She came to Goshen College some years after I left, and I was able to hear her in the concert hall I helped to build as president. She still dazzles. I think she did at least three complete wardrobe changes that night.

      I think of you and your dogs and your lovely neighborhood. You have a gift for Sacred Pauses, Joan. You’ve earned them.

      Merry Christmas!

  9. Linda Gartz on December 17, 2015 at 1:29 pm

    Hi Shirley,

    I, too, am not familiar with this song from Christmas Past. Yet there are so many beautiful Christmas carols and melodies that are still integrated into my being that when I go to an advent service and have a chance to hear them again, early childhood memories come rushing back — and often bring me to tears (as now, even in writing about it).
    The sacred pause is a wonderful idea. I’ll be sure to spend a few moments taking a deep breath, contemplating the good in my life, and think about another person with the three questions Laurie suggested. A Merry Christmas to all!

  10. Shirley Showalter on December 17, 2015 at 1:43 pm

    Hi Linda, so glad you took a moment to stop here and breathe and remember. I am in the midst of writing a Christmas Eve devotional, and, like you, I choke up when I hear music, light candles, and remember the mystery and magic of Christmas.

    May you also have a very Merry Christmas.

    I revisited some old posts recently and recognized how long the two of us have been in conversation online. Grateful for you!

  11. Sherrey Meyer on December 17, 2015 at 2:04 pm

    Shirley, it is still morning here in the NW and we haven’t seen a sunrise in too many days. The rain pours from above, and the streams and rivers below flood. Many are waiting for the rain to stop and the waters to recede, all the while experiencing the waiting of Advent or the bustling busyness of Christmas.

    I self-enforced (is that a word?) a pause in my world a few days ago. Not happy with the pain of bursitis and struggling with winter blues (a common thing here called seasonal affective disorder or SADD), I haven’t been able to get beyond practicing Advent. I’m waiting in the midst of a pause from many things while waiting for the celebration of the Christ Child and His meaning for lives everywhere.

    Your gift this morning of music and the beautiful sunrise was an added pause in this day for me. Thank you for always bringing the best of your Mennonite roots to our hearts.

    • Shirley Showalter on December 17, 2015 at 10:48 pm

      Sherrey, I saw the picture you posted on Facebook. You are living with some very troubling weather. And the Bursitis and SADD only make it worse. I’m sorry.

      I am glad you still wait in anticipation of celebration of the Christ Child.May you find strength in many little pauses and find joy when the celebration finally comes, the rains subside, and the spirits rise.

  12. Carrie Ann Lahain on December 17, 2015 at 3:33 pm

    Thanks for this. It’s been a rough holiday season after losing Mike on Nov 7th. There are so many details to deal with that I haven’t had time to pause and truly grieve. And maybe I’m secretly glad about that. The feelings are hard. Being busy is easy.

    • Shirley Showalter on December 17, 2015 at 10:52 pm

      Carrie, I’m so sorry to hear of your great recent loss. You put the concept of pausing into a new context. You will know when the time is right to do so. In the meantime, you are doing what helps you get through the days. I hope you have many others around you to offer a shoulder, a kind word, and a gentle presence. Those are sacred pauses also. Holding you in the Light.

  13. Merril Smith on December 17, 2015 at 5:11 pm

    I don’t have any particular rituals or practices, but I enjoyed reading your post and hearing the music–and thinking of you sending your joyous harmonies and prayers out to a troubled world. I also enjoyed reading all the comments.

    I think rather that a sacred pause, I’m more in touch with gratitude pauses. I try to stop to appreciate the world around me. Right now I can admire the way the mist surrounds the trees, as I gaze out the window, and note how beautiful it looks despite the gloomy weather. I have two sick kitties, and I will feel extreme gratitude if they decide to eat dinner!

    • Shirley Showalter on December 17, 2015 at 10:56 pm

      I love how you ground this comment at the end with your two sick kitties. Hope they responded gratefully to your TLC, although most kitties I know are not known for their gratitude.

      Gratitude pauses are sacred to me. Thank you for expanding the concept to include paying attention with appreciation: “I can admire the way the mist surrounds the trees.”

      I always enjoy your comments, Merril. Happy holidays.

  14. Kathleen Pooler on December 17, 2015 at 5:32 pm

    Such a beautiful Advent reflection, Shirley and your photo of the Shenandoah Valley is exquisite. I have always been opposed to the frenzy and commercialism of the holidays where the true meaning of the season gets lost in all the hustle and bustle. And when life deals us a rough hand, the expectation that one will find happiness and joy in material items becomes a reminder that the best things in life are not things. I started a tradition–a sacred pause– with my grandsons a few years back of wrapping a box filled with all their cares and worries written on pieces of paper and presenting it to Jesus at Mass during Advent. Thank you for sharing your tradition, complete with beautiful music and for reminding us to step back and take in the beauty and peace of this sacred season.

    • Shirley Showalter on December 17, 2015 at 11:03 pm

      Your little grandsons must be blessed by you and by this practice, Kathy. Thank you for sharing the story. In return I offer you this famous story from my favorite author, Willa Cather, in her book Death Comes for the Archbishop:

      DECEMBER NIGHT

      Father Vaillant had been absent in Arizona since midsummer, and it
      was now December. Bishop Latour had been going through one of
      those periods of coldness and doubt which, from his boyhood, had
      occasionally settled down upon his spirit and made him feel an
      alien, wherever he was. He attended to his correspondence, went on
      his rounds among the parish priests, held services at missions that
      were without pastors, superintended the building of the addition to
      the Sisters’ school: but his heart was not in these things.

      One night about three weeks before Christmas he was lying in his
      bed, unable to sleep, with the sense of failure clutching at his
      heart. His prayers were empty words and brought him no
      refreshment. His soul had become a barren field. He had nothing
      within himself to give his priests or his people. His work seemed
      superficial, a house built upon the sands. His great diocese was
      still a heathen country. The Indians travelled their old road of
      fear and darkness, battling with evil omens and ancient shadows.
      The Mexicans were children who played with their religion.

      As the night wore on, the bed on which the Bishop lay became a bed
      of thorns; he could bear it no longer. Getting up in the dark, he
      looked out of the window and was surprised to find that it was
      snowing, that the ground was already lightly covered. The full
      moon, hidden by veils of cloud, threw a pale phosphorescent
      luminousness over the heavens, and the towers of the church stood
      up black against this silvery fleece. Father Latour felt a longing
      to go into the church to pray; but instead he lay down again under
      his blankets. Then, realizing that it was the cold of the church
      he shrank from, and despising himself, he rose again, dressed
      quickly, and went out into the court, throwing on over his cassock
      that faithful old cloak that was the twin of Father Vaillant’s.

      They had bought the cloth for those coats in Paris, long ago, when
      they were young men staying at the Seminary for Foreign Missions in
      the rue du Bac, preparing for their first voyage to the New World.
      The cloth had been made up into caped riding-cloaks by a German
      tailor in Ohio, and lined with fox fur. Years afterward, when
      Father Latour was about to start on his long journey in search of
      his Bishopric, that same tailor had made the cloaks over and
      relined them with squirrel skins, as more appropriate for a mild
      climate. These memories and many others went through the Bishop’s
      mind as he wrapped the trusty garment about him and crossed the
      court to the sacristy, with the big iron key in his hand.

      The court was white with snow, and the shadows of walls and
      buildings stood out sharply in the faint light from the moon
      muffled in vapour. In the deep doorway of the sacristy he saw a
      crouching figure–a woman, he made out, and she was weeping
      bitterly. He raised her up and took her inside. As soon as he had
      lit a candle, he recognized her, and could have guessed her errand.

      It was an old Mexican woman, called Sada, who was slave in an
      American family. They were Protestants, very hostile to the Roman
      Church, and they did not allow her to go to Mass or to receive the
      visits of a priest. She was carefully watched at home,–but in
      winter, when the heated rooms of the house were desirable to the
      family, she was put to sleep in a woodshed. To-night, unable to
      sleep for the cold, she had gathered courage for this heroic
      action, had slipped out through the stable door and come running up
      an alley-way to the House of God to pray. Finding the front doors
      of the church fastened, she had made her way into the Bishop’s
      garden and come round to the sacristy, only to find that, too, shut
      against her.

      The Bishop stood holding the candle and watching her face while she
      spoke her few words; a dark brown peon face, worn thin and sharp by
      life and sorrow. It seemed to him that he had never seen pure
      goodness shine out of a human countenance as it did from hers.
      He saw that she had no stockings under her shoes,–the cast-off
      rawhides of her master,–and beneath her frayed black shawl was
      only a thin calico dress, covered with patches. Her teeth struck
      together as she stood trying to control her shivering. With one
      movement of his free hand the Bishop took the furred cloak from his
      shoulders and put it about her. This frightened her. She cowered
      under it, murmuring, “Ah, no, no, Padre!”

      “You must obey your Padre, my daughter. Draw that cloak about you,
      and we will go into the church to pray.”

      The church was utterly black except for the red spark of the
      sanctuary lamp before the high altar. Taking her hand, and holding
      the candle before him, he led her across the choir to the Lady
      Chapel. There he began to light the tapers before the Virgin. Old
      Sada fell on her knees and kissed the floor. She kissed the feet
      of the Holy Mother, the pedestal on which they stood, crying all
      the while. But from the working of her face, from the beautiful
      tremors which passed over it, he knew they were tears of ecstasy.

      “Nineteen years, Father; nineteen years since I have seen the holy
      things of the altar!”

      “All that is passed, Sada. You have remembered the holy things in
      your heart. We will pray together.”

      The Bishop knelt beside her, and they began, O Holy Mary, Queen of
      Virgins. . . .

      More than once Father Vaillant had spoken to the Bishop of this
      aged captive. There had been much whispering among the devout
      women of the parish about her pitiful case. The Smiths, with whom
      she lived, were Georgia people, who had at one time lived in El
      Paso del Norte, and they had taken her back to their native State
      with them. Not long ago some disgrace had come upon this family in
      Georgia, they had been forced to sell all their Negro slaves and
      flee the State. The Mexican woman they could not sell because they
      had no legal title to her, her position was irregular. Now that
      they were back in a Mexican country, the Smiths were afraid their
      charwoman might escape from them and find asylum among her own
      people, so they kept strict watch upon her. They did not allow her
      to go outside their own patio, not even to accompany her mistress
      to market.

      Two women of the Altar Guild had been so bold as to go into the
      patio to talk with Sada when she was washing clothes, but they had
      been rudely driven away by the mistress of the house. Mrs. Smith
      had come running out into the court, half dressed, and told them
      that if they had business at her casa they were to come in by the
      front door, and not sneak in through the stable to frighten a poor
      silly creature. When they said they had come to ask Sada to go to
      Mass with them, she told them she had got the poor creature out of
      the clutches of the priests once, and would see to it that she did
      not fall into them again.

      Even after that rebuff a very pious neighbour woman had tried to
      say a word to Sada through the alley door of the stable, where she
      was unloading wood off the burro. But the old servant had put her
      finger to her lips and motioned the visitor away, glancing back
      over her shoulder the while with such an expression of terror that
      the intruder hastened off, surmising that Sada would be harshly
      used if she were caught speaking to anyone. The good woman went
      immediately to Father Vaillant with this story, and he had
      consulted the Bishop, declaring that something ought to be done to
      secure the consolations of religion for the bond-woman. But the
      Bishop replied that the time was not yet; for the present it was
      inexpedient to antagonize these people. The Smiths were the
      leaders of a small group of low-caste Protestants who took every
      occasion to make trouble for the Catholics. They hung about the
      door of the church on festival days with mockery and loud laughter,
      spoke insolently to the nuns in the street, stood jeering and
      blaspheming when the procession went by on Corpus Christi Sunday.
      There were five sons in the Smith family, fellows of low habits and
      evil tongues. Even the two younger boys, still children, showed a
      vicious disposition. Tranquilino had repeatedly driven these two
      boys out of the Bishop’s garden, where they came with their lewd
      companions to rob the young pear trees or to speak filth against
      the priests.

      When they rose from their knees, Father Latour told Sada he was
      glad to know that she remembered her prayers so well.

      “Ah, Padre, every night I say my Rosary to my Holy Mother, no
      matter where I sleep!” declared the old creature passionately,
      looking up into his face and pressing her knotted hands against her
      breast.

      When he asked if she had her beads with her, she was confused. She
      kept them tied with a cord around her waist, under her clothes, as
      the only place she could hide them safely.

      He spoke soothingly to her. “Remember this, Sada; in the year to
      come, and during the Novena before Christmas, I will not forget to
      pray for you whenever I offer the Blessed Sacrifice of the Mass.
      Be at rest in your heart, for I will remember you in my silent
      supplications before the altar as I do my own sisters and my
      nieces.”

      Never, as he afterward told Father Vaillant, had it been permitted
      him to behold such deep experience of the holy joy of religion as
      on that pale December night. He was able to feel, kneeling beside
      her, the preciousness of the things of the altar to her who was
      without possessions; the tapers, the image of the Virgin, the
      figures of the saints, the Cross that took away indignity from
      suffering and made pain and poverty a means of fellowship with
      Christ. Kneeling beside the much enduring bond-woman, he
      experienced those holy mysteries as he had done in his young
      manhood. He seemed able to feel all it meant to her to know that
      there was a Kind Woman in Heaven, though there were such cruel ones
      on earth. Old people, who have felt blows and toil and known the
      world’s hard hand, need, even more than children do, a woman’s
      tenderness. Only a Woman, divine, could know all that a woman can
      suffer.

      Not often, indeed, had Jean Marie Latour come so near to the
      Fountain of all Pity as in the Lady Chapel that night; the pity
      that no man born of woman could ever utterly cut himself off from;
      that was for the murderer on the scaffold, as it was for the dying
      soldier or the martyr on the rack. The beautiful concept of Mary
      pierced the priest’s heart like a sword.

      “O Sacred Heart of Mary!” she murmured by his side, and he felt how
      that name was food and raiment, friend and mother to her. He
      received the miracle in her heart into his own, saw through her
      eyes, knew that his poverty was as bleak as hers. When the Kingdom
      of Heaven had first come into the world, into a cruel world of
      torture and slaves and masters, He who brought it had said, “And
      whosoever is least among you, the same shall be first in the
      Kingdom of Heaven.” This church was Sada’s house, and he was a
      servant in it.

      The Bishop heard the old woman’s confession. He blessed her and
      put both hands upon her head. When he took her down the nave to
      let her out of the church, Sada made to lift his cloak from her
      shoulders. He restrained her, telling her she must keep it for
      her own, and sleep in it at night. But she slipped out of it
      hurriedly; such a thought seemed to terrify her. “No, no, Father.
      If they were to find it on me!” More than that, she did not accuse
      her oppressors. But as she put it off, she stroked the old garment
      and patted it as if it were a living thing that had been kind to
      her.

      Happily Father Latour bethought him of a little silver medal, with
      a figure of the Virgin, he had in his pocket. He gave it to her,
      telling her that it had been blessed by the Holy Father himself.
      Now she would have a treasure to hide and guard, to adore while her
      watchers slept. Ah, he thought, for one who cannot read–or think–
      the Image, the physical form of Love!

      He fitted the great key into its lock, the door swung slowly back
      on its wooden hinges. The peace without seemed all one with the
      peace in his own soul. The snow had stopped, the gauzy clouds that
      had ribbed the arch of heaven were now all sunk into one soft white
      fog bank over the Sangre de Cristo mountains. The full moon shone
      high in the blue vault, majestic, lonely, benign. The Bishop stood
      in the doorway of his church, lost in thought, looking at the line
      of black footprints his departing visitor had left in the wet scurf
      of snow.

  15. Marylin Warner on December 17, 2015 at 11:12 pm

    When we drove from Colorado to Kansas early this morning, Shirley, we began in dense fog. Skiffs of snow concealed icy patches, and the first 200 miles of our trip were quiet except for the radio warnings that covered nearly all of our route.
    Then, almost magically, we drove out of the blurry fog. Around the next bend and over a final hill, and the sky cleared. Sunshine peeked through the clouds, the roads cleared, and the news station that had previously listed grim warnings instead played a recording of The First Noel.
    It was a beautiful gift, an invitation to sing along, smile, and look forward to soon greeting our family and friends.

    • Shirley Showalter on December 17, 2015 at 11:43 pm

      I was right with you in the car, straining to see, focusing, concentrating. Then my shoulders softened and I began to breathe with you. By the end I was rejoicing. You write so well, Marylin.

      I hope you have many more sacred pauses and make many memories with family and friends. Noël!

  16. April Yamasaki on December 18, 2015 at 1:51 am

    Thank you, Shirley, for your kind words and this inspiring post. It’s a treat to hear Oh Beautiful Star of Bethlehem on your site, as we’ll be singing it as part of worship in my congregation this Sunday! May this Advent and Christmas season continue to be filled with sacred pauses for you, April

  17. Shirley Showalter on December 18, 2015 at 12:37 pm

    April, we here agree that your congregation is lucky to have you lead them.

    And how wonderful that you will be singing this same song. Another touch of Kairos timing.

    Blessed Christmas joy to you and yours.

  18. Rick Yoder on December 19, 2015 at 7:10 am

    For many years when my extended family got together to celebrate Christmas with good food and conversation, we would put a tape/CD of the Messiah on, get our Messiah scores out, and sing along. I always loved doing that, almost magical – even though some of the solo parts would sometimes get a little overdone!

  19. Elaine Mansfield on December 19, 2015 at 6:53 pm

    Thank you for sharing your rituals, Shirley. And thank you for prayers for our troubled world. I hope we will all do this and keep doing it with sincerity. I take many pauses to search for beauty, walk in the woods, or just breathe in and out.

    My family shows up on Monday, but I don’t have to have it all together before they get here. We have fun cooking and doing projects together. But I must hang the new decorations I hope will make my sons laugh–chili pepper lights in red, yellow, and green. Christmas is somber for us still and grief surfaces when they come home. Such a huge presence of absence. But we’ll be together for Solstice and light our candles to letting go and welcoming new Light. It’s my favorite holiday of all.

    • Shirley Showalter on December 19, 2015 at 9:22 pm

      Your posts are full of deeply breathed pauses.

      Chili pepper lights sound delightful. What a great way to spice up the season, especially when it is somber.

      The size of the absence is the size of your love — enormous.

      Have a wonderful Solstice and then Full Moon!!

  20. Tracy Lee Karner on December 20, 2015 at 1:34 pm

    Music, of course. And this year for the first time I’ve been praying the Divine Office (Liturgy of the Hours), I’ve had a long, informal relationship with some of the Benedictine Sisters of Saint Paul’s Monastery, and since reading “The Cloister Walk” a number of years ago, have been thinking about their liturgical/corporate life of prayer. As this season turned into a particularly intense, confusing and scary time, I found “The Divine Office” online, and early in December, numerous times a day when I didn’t know what else to do, I fled to that space as a refuge and found the comfort (hope!) of the promises of the Advent season. I’ll be very interested to learn how your upcoming time in Collegeville effects you. I’m hoping to spend a month in that area of Minnesota next autumn, too. Perhaps I’ll be able to visit the Abbey again, and meet you in person if you have time! Wouldn’t that be wonderful! (Thank you for posting the video–it warmed my heart and soul).

  21. Shirley Showalter on December 24, 2015 at 3:09 pm

    Tracy,I would love to meet you in person if it is possible next year. So glad the music soothed your soul.

    I don’t know what hard times you are going through, but I will take your cares with me and place them before the manger at the church where we will be taking our family for Christmas Eve services.

    God bless!

Leave a Comment





Pin It on Pinterest

Share This
%d bloggers like this: