#Donna

Happy Epiphany!

The Christmas season is officially ending today but my meditation on the Incarnation goes on through the many epiphany moments that grace my life. The word “epiphany” means the sudden manifestation of the divine within the ordinary, a  flash of insight, a sudden, certain encounter with the felt presence of God. The strange story of the Magi abounds in symbolism. Epiphany doesn’t happen without an impossible quest. I must choose to follow the light streaming through the darkness, even if it makes no sense to anyone else. If I stay the course,  I will find what I seek in the most unlikely places. Patience will be required because sometimes the epiphany happens later when situations that I could never have orchestrated on my own converge. As we resume writing for the rest of January about resolutions, may one of them include a greater awareness of these epiphany moments that illuminate and fill our lives with starlight.

by DC

Celebrating on the Twelfth Day of Christmas

Today, the sixth of January is known as “Twelfth Night,” the vigil of the Feast of the Epiphany. In many homes throughout the world, including mine,  a lavish, twenty-four-hour celebration begins. People don crowns, exchange gifts, and have big parties with special food.  Traditionally,  a “king’s cake,” baked with coins or a small baby doll hidden inside, is ceremoniously shared. Blessing prayers are offered over gold, frankincense, and myrrh to honor the first gifts given to the Christ Child. The initials of the three kings and the date are chalked over doorways to bless all who will enter the home throughout the year. I am celebrating in a big way this year by hosting a dinner party for two close friends who have come to visit from out of state just for the occasion. We will sing, eat Middle Eastern food, talk about revelations on starry nights, and bask in wondrous gratitude for the many gifts that continue to pour into our lives.

by DC

Listening on the Eleventh Day of Christmas

Time spent in meditation these past ten days has been like one long, wonderful listening session.  I have particularly enjoyed hearing bird calls and squirrel chatterings, the sound of the wind through the trees. Slowing down has also allowed me time to pray, to pay attention to my own thoughts, and heightened my awareness of how conflicted I feel about the lure of technology. While I am endlessly fascinated with my electronic devices, I am simultaneously disgusted with how much I allow them to control me. I know I am not alone. More people go to spiritual direction today because it is an hour with someone who will listen in rapt attention, without distractions, the way we picture Jesus listening to a child. Perhaps we can start a new trend and bring back active listening in 2018, intentionally putting people first and using technology as a tool for teaching and promoting compassion.

by DC

Editing on the Tenth Day of Christmas

“Edit” has been my focus word for several years now. While I am a good editor of writing, the word took on a different definition when applied to my personal life. The idea was to edit out what superfluous actions, thoughts, and activities I was holding onto, keeping only the essential. From the get-go, this has not been easy. First, I have a really hard time saying “no” to any new challenge. As soon as I edit out one activity, another takes its place. Second, the time it takes to edit is daunting when one is consumed with busyness, like I am. So, today, on the Tenth Day of Christmas, I am deliberately being quiet and taking a red pen to my to-do list, even the spiritual commitments that I have previously prioritized. A wise friend told me to be realistic, eliminate one activity a month, replacing it only with stillness. Twelve months, twelve edits. I am taking a deep breath, lighting a candle, and praying that I will keep the promises made on this beautiful new day.

by DC

 

Reading on the Ninth Day of Christmas

My mother once remarked, “Donna will read anything,” when visitors observed me engrossed in reading cereal boxes over breakfast. She was certainly right. Even now, I fall asleep reading at night, the perfect remedy for insomnia. Each January, during the 12 Days, I take stock of what I read the previous year. According to my Kindle account, (the greatest invention of the century in my mind),  I read forty digital and fifteen printed novels and spiritual writings. I wish it were more. I recently heard an interview with a very busy woman who reads 200 books in a year. How astounding! I am well aware that not everyone shares my enthusiasm for I was frequently ridiculed. But I don’t care. I still have so much to learn and at this point in my life, have no plans for more degrees. Reading allows me to enter into the “inner monastery” whenever and wherever I want. Following the Divine Master, I am forever a student, filled with joyful anticipation for yet another chance to be created anew.

by DC

Making Music on the Eighth Day of Christmas

On this eighth day of Christmas, I am making music, something I have been doing since I was a young child. Unbeknownst to many, I studied flute and piano for many years, played in the school band and sang in the choir.  As a teen, inspired by my favorite folk singers, Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan, I took up the mandolin, ukulele, and guitar. I was also enthralled with musicals and majored in theatre in college. After performing in numerous plays and a USO tour to the Mediterranean, these artistic pursuits gave way to other ventures. Yet music remains. I have a baby grand piano, flutes, guitars, drums, autoharps, and other instruments and I especially love allowing my grandchildren to create family concerts. For Christmas, I asked “Santa” for a tenor ukulele. Even though my fingertips need toughening up, I am reveling again in how much music elevates the soul. I resolve to spend the rest of my life playing and listening, filled gratitude for one of the greatest gifts God has implanted in the human heart.

by DC

Resolution on the Seventh Day of Christmas

It is the new year, the seventh day of Christmas, and again I feel a familiar mixture of emotions, like standing at a crossroad. Looking back twelve months and my resolution to become a saint (held over from the previous year), I recall purposefully asking God to deconstruct my old ideas about what that truly meant, suspecting that I held false notions that needed pruning. Watch what you ask for, the wise sage warns. My interior adventure this past year was like taking the trip of a lifetime, full of insights and questions, bringing me to the heights of ecstasy over beauty and into the depths of anguish over the state of the world. I learned that along with joy, saints experience immense metaphysical suffering. And who of us wants that? We live in a culture obsessed with youth and forever running from pain. Yet the suffering, fraught with meaning, makes the sacrifice worth it, as we know from the Paschal Mystery. And so, I have resolved yet again, in 2018, to extend this arduous, exciting resolution, praying that I have the courage to journey onward.

by DC

Podcasting on the Sixth Day of Christmas

Years ago, if anyone had told me that I would become a technical “expert” at in my senior years, I would have had a big laugh. But in truth, the Spirit has led me into the unlikely, beautiful and sometimes scary new universe of using the Internet to form faith. Besides learning how to build and maintain a website and social media, I recently learned how to podcast, and this has been, to date, my biggest delight. I simply love being able to both listen to podcasts and to record my own, capturing a time and place that can be shared with anyone, anywhere. Even though our Seeking Faith Podcast has amassed dozens of recordings, I often wish I could devote more time to this venture. So, today, I am spending the day recording many things, including the reading of my favorite Christmas stories. If you have never tuned in, perhaps now is the time to take a listen and open yourself to a whole new way of learning about faith and life. The joy continues!

Here’s the link: https://seekingfaith.podbean.com/

by DC