Friday, December 31, 2010


It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch
a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway
into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.

Mary Oliver

Thursday, December 30, 2010

mysteries within reach

the beauty of things spent

open hands spilling grace

angels hidden for a season reveal themselves in winters dying back

once hidden in the dark - unfolding now

graceful reaching for the light


tender sprouts ready for deeper planting

bearing fruit to the end


holding on

letting go

 unexpected places of growth
gifts that linger

hidden self

emerging life - what a little light can do

Monday, December 27, 2010

Modern Magi

“If I could put it simply, I would say that I believe that there’s a force of love and logic behind the universe.  This is overwhelming to start with, if you believe it. But the idea that that same love and logic would choose to introduce itself as a baby born in shit and straw and poverty is the poetic genius of a creator I can believe in. Christ makes sense to me, and brings me to my knees, literally.” Bono

Friday, December 24, 2010

Written on Christmas Eve, 1513

I salute you. I am your friend, and my love for you goes deep.
There is nothing I can give you which you have not. But there is much,
very much, that, while I cannot give it, you can take. No heaven can
come to us unless our hearts find rest in it today. Take heaven!
No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present little instant.
Take peace! The gloom of the world is but a shadow. Behind it, yet within
our reach, is joy. There is radiance and glory in darkness, could we but see.
And to see, we have only to look. I beseech you to look!

Life is so generous a giver. But we, judging its gifts by their covering,
cast them away as ugly or heavy or hard. Remove the covering, and you
will find beneath it a living splendor, woven of love by wisdom, with power.
Welcome it, grasp it, and you touch the angel's hand that brings it to you.
Everything we call a trial, a sorrow or a duty, believe me, that angel's hand is there.
The gift is there and the wonder of an overshadowing presence. Your joys, too,
be not content with them as joys. They, too, conceal diviner gifts.

Life is so full of meaning and purpose, so full of beauty beneath its covering,
that you will find earth but cloaks your heaven. Courage then to claim it; that is all!
But courage you have, and the knowledge that we are pilgrims together,
wending through unknown country home.

And so, at this time, I greet you, not quite as the world sends greetings,
but with profound esteem and with the prayer that for you, now and
forever, the day breaks and shadows flee away.

~ Fra Giovanni Giocondo OFM~

Monday, December 6, 2010

O Christmas Tree

One of our family traditions has been to give our
children a new ornament each advent for the Christmas tree,
with the thought that they would receive their collection
for their first christmas in their own homes.
Last year I gave those ornaments to them for their own trees
(having arrived at 30 something each I had come to the slow conclusion
that it was time).
Of course 7 year old continues the tradition with her yearly ornament
but the tree this year has been transformed in that one gesture from having its
branches overladen to branches very simply adorned.
Those ornaments were not just sparkly things, but years of memories,
carefully chosen to represent each child, their likes and desires, as they grew.
There were foxes and ballerinas, mice in wagons and angels small,
snowmen and St. Nicholas’, and children (3 of a kind)
which inevitably caused them to quickly converge to sort out who’s who!
Their delighted childhood laughter echoes in my memory
as 7 year old opens hers from the advent house
and squeals with pleasure, dancing away until it breaks in her hands...
we gather up the beads that scattered on the floor and
re-thread a skinny snowman arm, a dab of glue and a days rest
working its magic until evening comes. Ready to decorate the tree,
we open the dusty boxes and search
for the little baby Jesus on his red cushion,
first ornament always, laid in the cross of her branches,
and then she gets her funny snowman, places it on the tree –
puts her arm around me as we savor the moment.

We spend the evening unwrapping ornaments
and placing them on the tree, Christmas carols playing
until at last the paper angel is placed on top and we step back
again to check our handiwork.  It's then
that those simple branches tug at me, tap right into my
heart - and it is precisely that moment when
quietly 7 year old shares her secret with me,
"It's a beautiful tree...I think if we put on anything more
no one could really see the tree, it would be lost."  
I just stood there, felt the warmth of her hand on my back,