#Advent

Gentle Teaching

During one of my Christmas Concert intermission, a fellow soprano said glumly, “You know, I just don’t believe in the story about the birth of the Son of God. I love the feeling  this time of year brings, though.” “ Have you ever considered,” I asked, “whether you believe Christ is the Son of God or not, that Jesus was the greatest teacher of love, for example, how to love one another? If Buddha taught us how to enter into a holy place through meditation using our brains, Christ taught us how to heal our heart through forgiveness and how to be a loving presence for ourselves and others.” All at once the glum soprano began reciting Bible verses: “Love one another as I have loved you…..Love your neighbor as yourself.” Our call came for the second half of the concert. The glum soprano grinned broadly. A soprano sitting next her leaned over touched my arm and said, “Thank you for your gentle teaching.”

by Gracie

Peace-Filled Gifts

I have had the blessings of soaking in many wonderful books, songs and media resources over the years. Many years ago on my own personal faith journey, I realized what I take in is what I give out. What I allow to come over the bow of my ship effects everything I do and say. There are so many wonderful ways to take in peace for our hearts and souls. It is not about more information, it is all about transformation. As Fr. Richard Rohr writes, “transformed people, transform people.” We allow that to happen when we open our hearts to the many gifts offered us by others. Gifts of good music, inspired writing, uplifting podcasts (see below), they all have the capacity to transform our souls.

by Cathy

Podcasts/daily devotionals – https://www.wordonfire.org/

App for phone daily prayer – https://www.pray-as-you-go.org/home/

Piano Guys Christmas- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JyVEKsNFDjw

 

Peace Device

It takes a concerted effort to watch my phone do the buzzing ballet on my kitchen counter, alerting me to a text or an email, and not jump up to pick it up. This morning, I will start with peace, without any device asking me for my attention. I will lay my phone down. Ironically, it will become my center of focus for my prayer.  I will start with three deep breaths, and focus on the colorful APP icons and begin my meditation. The photo album icon: I will pray with a thankful heart for all the colorful memories I have captured that live in my memory bank. The text message icon: I will pray for my family and the connections I make throughout the day praying for each of them with specific intentions.  The camera icon: I will meditate on the world outside of me, the people in my path, and the beauty of the sunrise sky greeting me this crisp winter morn.

by Liz

Snow and Peace

The snow didn’t catch us by surprise but the volume and intensity did. The forecast was for snow flurries. By 4:30 in the morning there was over two feet of dreamy, fluffy, white flakes. There was no discriminating on where the snow fell. No one person or object would be denied this blanket of cold that warmed our hearts. It was the morning of Christmas Eve. The wait for Christmas had already begun. We had decided to spend our first Christmas away from home in Mammoth. No plans, no timetable, routine left quietly to rest under a mound of snow. Today we look back at that experience and we remember the magic and peace that it conjured up. It seemed like every new inch of snow had a purpose. A purpose to silence our cell phones. A purpose to quiet our fears, a purpose to wait for the coming of something mysterious, pious, incredible, arriving gently through the air as a prayer and a peace offering. And a promise.

by Diego

Heart of Peace

“Love your neighbor as yourself.” Mark 12:21

In his book, “The Nonviolent Life,” John Dear reminds me that “being a person of nonviolence means, first of all, being nonviolent to ourselves.” He claims that we forget that, at our very core, we are daughters and sons of an all peaceful and loving God.  When Jesus is telling me to love my neighbor as myself He is presuming that I love myself; that I care for, nurture and recognize the beloved child of God that I am.  Considering the plight of the world that we witness daily on a 24-hour news cycle, I don’t believe that all the Christmas lights in the world can dispel the darkness we impose upon each other.  I pray to recognize the Christ in me so that I may see the Christ in you. Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.

by Andrew

https://youtu.be/b4ubAh9TLko

Dance

Peace practice for today: “Before you leave the house today play an uplifting tune you enjoy and have a quick dance.” For most people, this wouldn’t be much of a challenge but not for me.  You may as well ask me to try out for the astronaut program! Moving to music and singing have never been my forte. But I do remember how I always had the radio on when I was home with three children under four. When a favorite song was playing, I would scoop up each of my babies in turn and prance around the house with them. They loved this and would giggle and hang on to me for dear life. (Even at that age they must have sensed my inability to dance!) So, today I will put the radio on and pretend I am holding a little one. Only God will see me and he has always been holding on to me, anyway.

by JAM

Naming Reality

Interestingly, right in the middle of our Advent meditations on peace, I am surrounded by images and stories that seem to fit perfectly together. For example,  I heard on the news this week that police departments are writing “peace officer” on the side of their patrol cars in an effort to raise consciousness about their main purpose. They hope naming the outer reality will change the inner dispositions of not only the officers but also the people they serve. Maybe that’s just naive wishful thinking, but it’s something. I wonder what would happen if each of us adopted that same stance in our personal lives and wore t-shirts or jewelry that sent a message of peace.  We would most certainly get some stares and comments but if this simple act could change anyone or anything, wouldn’t it be worth it? Maybe I will design a t-shirt and give it to everyone on my gift list this year! I’ll keep you posted.

by DC

 

Culture of Encounter

Pope Francis said, “We need to be a culture of encounter, not one of conflict.” One of the singers in my choir is allergic to hairspray. She found mine offensive. My first thought was,”So it’s your problem. Take an antihistamine.” Asking God for clarity, I remembered that I also have allergies and I get really uncomfortable when confronted by the allergens in the environment. I stopped wearing hairspray fearfully because my hair tends to have a mind of its own. Still, this woman avoided looking and speaking to me. I went back to the Lord in prayer. “How can I be a healing presence in this awkward situation, Lord?” “Find something that has changed for the good since you have stopped wearing hairspray and share it with her.” So, in trepidation, I reached out and thanked her for speaking up about her allergy. I shared, that since stopping using hairspray, my hair is less stiff and feels softer. With a shocked expression on her face, she reached over and embraced me. Whenever we listen to another person we learn something new about God.

by Gracie