I prepare myself this Advent season, Christ’s coming. I quiet my soul this morning. Reading in my daily inspirational book which I neglected a couple of days this past week, “All of man’s miseries derive from not being able to sit quietly in a room alone,” written by 17th- century philosopher Blaise Pascal. I don’t want to be miserable. Do you? “Silence is God’s first language,” the 16th-century mystic John of the Cross wrote.
“Adventus” is the Latin word that the more modern word “advent” comes from, which means “arrival”. When someone arrives at your house or the office, you usually straighten things up and prepare some details like a meal or documents for your guest to partake or take with them. So we try to be accommodating, showing hospitality to our guests. The Latin meaning for hospitality is “host”. Most essentially, it refers to the relationship between the host and guest.
What can I, the host give Jesus, my guest this Advent season? My heart. Jesus just simply wants my heart. And yours. He wants to take residence in my heart and yours. Jesus wants a relationship with you. Open your heart to Jesus, our Messiah, the Lamb of God, the King of Glory. Welcome Him. Silence first. Pray to Him, tell Him your heart. Your sins, worries, fears, tears, sorrows, praises, joys, and dreams. “Leave all your worries with Him, because He cares for you.” ~ 1 Peter 5:7. He is listening, He cares, He comforts, and He answers with His love. “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore, I have continued to extend faithful love to you.” ~ Jeremiah 31:3
During this week off from the everyday grind, I am present moment many moments of my day, and days plural. My senses are wide-open. I hear my husband’s heart beat in the silence. My vision becomes clearer by the hour in the solitude. What a difference capturing a subdued vacation dedicated to the rejuvenation of the mind, body, soul, and spirit. Old thoughts are changed to clearer vision and direction. Faith in my God and myself restored. Life is punctuated with grace, hope, and love. Courage and strength for the walk ahead. I see the path. One of prayer. Pray the Word of God. Meditate and then pray Psalms 119. Today’s verses 11, 18, & 148 …“I have hidden Your Word in my heart that I might not sin against You … Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in Your law … My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on Your promises.”
The state that this world and our nation is in is unsettling to say the least. I cannot remember a time in my lifetime where I felt and seen such unrest, differences, disrespect, and disharmony within families, organizations, communities, governments, and countries. Is it because I have lived 59 years now, or is it really that bad in comparison to other eras? In our American history, think of the upheaval that the Civil War caused hundreds of thousands of people’s lives. Our travels to Missouri historical sites and in the South remind my husband and I how far we have come from those years in the 1800’s. Or have we?
There is that song lyric that goes “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me” that keeps playing over and over again in my heart. I find myself humming the words in my mind and out loud these past few days. Mother Teresa explains, “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” Holy Scriptures tell us,“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” ~ Romans 12:18. Am I at peace with the world God has placed around me, and myself? Are you at peace with your world, and yourself? Honestly, I am still working on this and in hopes and prayers for a brighter year in 2020.
I awoke this bitter cold morning to a hush. Not much stirring inside or outside. Missouri broke record cold temps overnight, a whole 10 degrees this November 12. Little stirring in the neighborhood as school was called off and commuters leaving late for work. An early season snow storm set the whole area in an icy mess late yesterday. Typically I would be in the shower by now, focused on my 9-hour day ahead at the office. But I was attending the funeral of a colleague who suddenly passed 5 days ago. I prayed for a blessed day despite needing to say “goodbye” to this friend later this morn.
I was blessed with the song birds coming to the feeder this morning. Chirping and feasting. Shadows of the birds, feeder, and perches lingered in the window panes. The contrast of light and dark resembled life and death. Guess which one wins? “He will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces … But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” ~ Isaiah 25:8 & 1 Corinthians 15:37. The warmth of the guest bedroom lured me to a nap after the funeral this sunny afternoon. I awoke knowing my life and my death is in His hands like my friend, his wife, and his son.
I was a guest panelist for the St. Louis American Heart Association’s Workplace Wellness Solutions Forum this week. What a wonderful experience to share the budget strategies I have incorporated in the wellness program at my workplace with other human resources and wellness professionals. Our keynote speaker, Aaron Hunnel brought his message of perspective, positivity, passion, and purpose. This humble young man has accomplished much in his young years. An American veteran who served two tours overseas, overcame addiction, has literally climbed several huge mountains, ran an Ironman Marathon with a disabled young woman as his partner, author of the book Upwards, and a successful business owner. His keynote message “There Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” moved many to tears. I sobbed. His authentic message reached home in my heart.
You see I know this woman who has a beautiful soul. She seeks the good in everyone she meets. She loves unceasingly, full of “thank yous”, and affectionate hugs. “See the light in others, and treat them as if that is all you see,” Kirk Weisler is quoted, and this is what this woman lives. And the courage she possesses is like no other I know. This woman has not one but multiple disabling medical conditions. This woman is Rachel, my oldest daughter. I am so proud of the character she has and is. An “all abilities” woman. The battles she has fought and continues to fight are extreme pain with advanced degenerative disc disease and arachnoiditis. Depression, self-pity, “why me”s, “why now”, purposelessness, faithlessness, hopelessness Rachel has fought against too. And this woman warrior has won! Her faith in God has saved her time and time again, and will continue to sustain her. Rachel gives love to family, friends, and strangers because she knows she was created for such as this. Love is sacred, love shared, no holding back.
“There are two ways of spreading the light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it,” author Edith Wharton is quoted. Edith began to write poems, short stories, and novels as a child in the latter 1800’s. Her first published novel would not be until she reached age 40, as it was not acceptable for a societal woman to be active in writing during this era. Edith’s life reflected her love for humanity during the first World War, brave efforts made for her French friends. Days and years, maybe a dimly lit wick, but she persevered in those humane and writing works. Edith Wharton’s influence is seen in literature and the arts today, and she has been gone from earth since 1937.
“He will not break a broken branch or put out a little fire. He will be faithful to make everything fair,” the Bible verse encourages us in Isaiah 42:3. In today’s world when life seems totally unfair, there is this promise from the Old Testament. Do not put out your own light by living like life is unfair, slanted, short-changed. Stop the envious comparisons to your family member, curtail the jealous plans to out beautify or own more than the Jones, and live your life at peace with yourself , neighbor, and God. Be secure in God. Be thankful. “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine …” Be that candle, and reflect God’s love for you as a mirror to the community you have been placed in.
Heavy dark clouds, drenching rains, lightning, and thunder dominated the weekend. Floods for some. But the light of day peeped out for a few minutes each day. The songbirds sing for joy. People come outside to pluck a weed or two in the flower bed, maybe to get a start on the many more that will appear with an eventual sunny afternoon. Neighbors take their furry friends for an afternoon stroll. The next impending rains quickly arrive before their return to shelter. Nature’s shower refreshes the soul in the midst of chaos and darkness. “He will not break off a fractured reed, and the lamp that flickers He will not extinguish until He will bring the verdict of innocence” or another version of this scripture in the book of Isaiah repeated in the gospel of Matthew, “A bruised reed He will not break, and a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish; He will faithfully bring forth justice.”
I am reminded with this church hymn this Sunday morn …
Joyful, joyful We adore Thee God of glory Lord of love Hearts unfold like flowers before Thee Hail Thee to the sun above Melt the clouds of sin and sadness Drive the dark of doubt away Giver of immortal gladness Fill us with the light of day
~ Friedrich Schiller ~
Let your light shine. Make joy in the midst of the dark clouds. Make love besides. Love wins every time. It is contagious, and lights up this world!