NOTE: I meant to post this on Christmas Eve, but a very good friend of mine had a stroke at the age of 40 the day before Christmas Eve. He’s only 40 years old. He remains in critical condition, but is showing signs of improvement. Please keep him, his partner and family in positive thought and prayer. Thanks!
Last week I stopped in a drug store and noticed that the Christmas stuff was already marked off 50%. I had no intention of buying yet another Christmas decoration; but I almost felt as if I was lead to look. In the midst of the plethora of decorations were some simple, painted wood block words. One of them said: “Believe.” I felt something as I picked it up, an energy, . . . and ended up buying it. It now sits front and center above my fireplace, and as I pray and meditate in the morning I look at it. As I walk through the living room a hundred times a day, I look at it. It becomes a mantra, a reminder – “Believe!” “Watch your thoughts.” “Your beliefs create reality.” I’ve just begun reading Wayne Dyer’s new book called Excuses Be Gone, in which he talks about scientific studies that have been done which prove that what we believe can literally create our reality, bring healing and affect our lives, positively or negatively – depending on what our beliefs are.. Scientific proof!
I can’t help but think that I was lead to buy that wood block word. I will keep it in my home year round, as a reminder.
Again, some, including myself might find a lot of the movies, songs and hype that surrounds us this time of year a bit sweet and syrupy. But it is good that collectively this time of year, many people are lead to positive thoughts and feelings – and frankly I’ve seen examples time and again where such thoughts create reality. I have seen and experienced kindness and self giving that is admirable. What a grace that we have this time of year that so many humans are thinking good thoughts and believing good things. What a great thing it would be if we carried such thoughts and beliefs through the rest of the year. Imagine the reality that collectively we could create in our world!
I love the song “Thankful,” made popular by Josh Groban. The song is written by David Foster, Carole Bayer Sager and Richard Page. The text of the refrain and the music wonderfully express our desire to turn our attention to what is good and hopeful:
“So for tonight we pray for
What we know can be
And on this day we hope for
What we still can’t see”
I hope that the little wood block word that I was lead to serves as a reminder throughout the year. Imagine the world we could bring into being if the good will that is felt this time of year was always in our thoughts!
“They that hope in God will renew their strength, they will soar as with eagles’ wings; they will run and not grow weary, walk and not grow faint.”
Tired of trying to do it all yourself?
When I look back on my life I see that I am most happy when I have surrendered to a Power greater than myself, when I have stopped trying to control my life or someone else’s. I quickly get insane when I try to control or when I cling to another. When I let go and allow a Power greater than myself to take care of that person I’m worried about, or those things within my own life about which I’m concerned, then life takes on a much more peaceful feel.
So how can I let go? How can I surrender? Ask this Power to direct my thinking. Talk out my actions and motivations with trusted people. Then simply just put one foot in front of the other and do the next right thing. That usually does it for me.
It is when I am doing these things that my energy begins to increase and I find myself a much happier person, running and not growing weary!
“Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God! Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill will be made low. The rugged land shall be made a plain, the rough country, a broad valley.” (See Isaiah 40: 1-11)
We’re so used to good roads in the United States that the concept of making a straight highway and leveling mountains is lost on us. When I lived in Central America for a summer I came to appreciate the roads and highway system we have here unlike I ever have before.
This concept of making a highway for God comes up again and again during Advent. If you’ve had the opportunity to observe a highway being built through hills and mountains, suddenly the awesome task of making a straight road comes into perspective!
This makes me think about the obstacles and “rough places” that are still within me, or the obstacles that I either place in another’s way, or don’t help remove. Think of your partner at home, or another family member or friend. Think of the poor, the less fortunate. How could I be of help in removing some of the obstacles that people have in their lives and making life even a little bit easier for them? And, conversely, what rough places and obstacles are still within me that hinder me from living life just a little more fully?
Did you ever get to a point in your life where you felt that it was over? You look to your future with weary eyes and you hear a voice inside you that says “the best of life is behind you.” I have to admit that as I approach the heart of middle age – still single no less! – I battle such thinking at times.
Or, did you ever get to the point where you felt an increasing lack of hope for the world? This could easily be one such time. With the great global economic downturn, terrorism, dictators, violence and increasing poverty, it is an easy time to feel hopeless and hear the voices that say “the best is behind us.”
Yet Advent points us to a time of hope, instead of despair. And it does so not from the vantage point of a privileged ivory tower looking at us and telling us to hang in there, it’ll get better. It does so from the mess, the stuff that is sometimes our lives. Christ was not born into privilege. He was born in a shit filled, smelly stable. Christ was not born into a time of peace and tranquility. He was born in a time of great strife, oppression and political unrest. And it was into such a time that a Word of hope was whispered!
Today, I was reading Isaiah 11: 1-10, one of those great readings often read in the Advent season. I must have read this reading a hundred times and something struck me as it never has before. “A shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom.” The word “stump” leapt out from the page. It says a shoot shall sprout from a “STUMP.” A stump is the remains of a dead tree. And it is from this lifeless thing that new and abundant life will arise!
Suddenly I felt a gentle nudge from God. “You may think the best is behind you. You may think that the best in our world and your life is now a ruin. But hold on, for from this seeming lifelessness new life will bloom, new chapters will be written.”
“There shall be no harm or ruin on my holy mountain.”