A New Year’s Poem — Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-1892)
Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky, The flying cloud, the frosty light; The year is dying in the night; Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.
Ring out the old, ring in the new, Ring, happy bells, across the snow; The year is going, let him go; Ring out the false, ring in the true.
Ring out the grief that saps the mind, For those that here we see no more; Ring out the feud of rich and poor, Ring in redress to all mankind.
Ring out a slowly dying cause, And ancient forms of party strife; Ring in the nobler modes of life, With sweeter manners, purer laws.
Ring out the want, the care, the sin, The faithless coldness of the times; Ring out, ring out my mournful rimes But ring the fuller minstrel in.
Ring out false pride in place and blood, The civic slander and the spite; Ring in the love of truth and right, Ring in the common love of good.
Ring out old shapes of foul disease; Ring out the narrowing lust of gold; Ring out the thousand wars of old, Ring in the thousand years of peace.
Ring in the valiant man and free, The larger heart, the kindlier hand; Ring out the darkness of the land, Ring in the Christ that is to be.
THE YEAR AS A HOUSE A Blessing — Jan Richardson
Think of the year as a house: door flung wide in welcome, threshold swept and waiting, a graced spaciousness opening and offering itself to you.
Let it be blessed in every room. Let it be hallowed in every corner. Let every nook be a refuge and every object set to holy use.
Let it be here that safety will rest. Let it be here that health will make its home. Let it be here that peace will show its face. Let it be here that love will find its way.
Here let the weary come let the aching come let the lost come let the sorrowing come.
Here let them find their rest and let them find their soothing and let them find their place and let them find their delight.
And may it be in this house of a year that the seasons will spin in beauty, and may it be in these turning days that time will spiral with joy. And may it be that its rooms will fill with ordinary grace and light spill from every window to welcome the stranger home.
Each week we kindle a new light. Each day, in this countdown toward Christmas, we meditate on the courage and conviction that causes us to renew that flame again and again and again.
The theme of each week offers us a gift of preparedness to live in this world, in these times. They help us understand how to both anticipate and invite the presence of Christ’s light within us, among us, and around us.
Advent, rather than being experienced as a passive season of waiting for the arrival of God’s renewed presence, is a period of readiness. We cultivate spiritual practices, ethical principles and worldly applications that contribute to bringing light into this world.
In this devotional, as you light Advent candles each day, we invite you to meditate on the blessings of Advent: hope, peace, joy and love. — Rev Gail
WEEK of HOPE
“Hope” is the thing with feathers — Emily Dickinson
“Hope” is the thing with feathers – That perches in the soul – And sings the tune without the words – And never stops – at all – And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard – And sore must be the storm – That could abash the little Bird That kept so many warm – I’ve heard it in the chillest land – And on the strangest Sea – Yet – never – in Extremity, It asked a crumb – of me.
Sun, Nov 29 – DAY 1
The candles are new: purple, pink and white. The wicks curl away, pale, unburnt. The blue-tipped match is poised to ignite when we strike it. Everything is possible as we begin our rituals today.
Think of today — the beginning of this season — as a new page, a fresh start, or a blank canvas. Recognize the present moment as a gift of potential: time upon which you may write your story. What will you inscribe here? What tale will you tell? What song will you write, poem lift up, image create? What next right thing will you choose to say or do today?— Rev Gail
Blessing of Hope — Jan Richardson So may we know the hope that is not just for someday but for this day— here, now, in this moment that opens to us: hope not made of wishes, but of substance, hope made of sinew and muscle and bone, hope that has breath and a beating heart, hope that will not keep quiet and be polite, hope that knows how to holler when it is called for, hope that knows how to sing when there seems little cause, hope that raises us from the dead— not someday but this day, every day, again and again and again.
And now, O Lord, what do I wait for? My hope is in you. — Psalm 39:7
You do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it is all going. What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith and hope. — Thomas Merton
In the middle of it, the future looks blank. The temptation to quit is huge. Don’t. You are in good company… You will argue with yourself that there is no way forward. But with God, nothing is impossible. He has more ropes and ladders and tunnels out of pits than you can conceive. Wait. Pray without ceasing. Hope. – John Piper
The very least you can do in your life is figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under its roof. — Barbara Kingsolver
It is not light that we need, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake. — Frederick Douglass
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you. — Khalil Gibran
Pentecost Blessing — Jan Richardson
On the day when you are wearing your certainty like a cloak and your sureness goes before you like a shield or like a sword,
may the sound of God’s name spill from your lips as you have never heard it before.
May your knowing be undone. May mystery confound your understanding.
May the Divine rain down in strange syllables yet with an ancient familiarity, a knowing borne in the blood, the ear, the tongue, bringing the clarity that comes not in stone or in steel but in fire, in flame.
May there come one searing word: enough to bare you to the bone, enough to set your heart ablaze, enough to make you whole again.
Chi and the Christian understanding of the Holy Spirit share many commonalities. The Old Testament ruach and the New Testament pneuma carry the same ambiguity of multiple meanings, as does Chi, such as “breath, air, wind, or soul.” — Kim
Here’s one thing you must understand about this blessing: it is not for you alone. It is stubborn about this. Do not even try to lay hold of it if you are by yourself, thinking you can carry it on your own … — Jan Richardson
Both the Jews and Christians celebrate Pentecost. During the Jewish Pentecost, every male Jew living within twenty miles of Jerusalem was legally bound to go up to Jerusalem to participate in the feast. Jewish Pentecost is also known by the name Shebuot or Shavuot (The Feast of Weeks). … For Christians … It is the day when the Holy Spirit descended on the apostles in the form of different tongues. It took place fifty days after the Resurrection of Jesus. The feasts also commemorate the inauguration of the Christian Church by apostles. — latestly.com
… Fire fell, I say, in angel-swarm, and men were changed for good, To feast with God, to feast on God, to savor holy food. Bread and wine, body and blood, were shed and tucked in a tomb. But, out He strolled, and breathed His breath, and the world became a womb … — Ross Guthrie
You burn with irrepressible, ferocious passion … we can barely stand upright in the face of your love … you would subsume us in the unrelenting hold of your peace … thank god our inadequacy defining you has never stopped you yet. — Cheryl Lawrie… look for – and expect! – the Holy Spirit to come along side us and shake things up, preparing and equipping each and all of us to share the disruptive, surprising, and life-giving word of grace of the God who will not rest until all people enjoy abundant life … — David Lose
English translations also underplay the fear-inducing, adrenalin-pumping, wind-tossed, fire-singed, smoke-filled turmoil of that experience. Those who observed this Pentecost visitation from outside the room are described in the NRSV as “bewildered” (v. 6), “amazed and astonished” (v. 7), and “amazed and perplexed” (v. 12). The Greek terms describing their reactions could be appropriately rendered (following the lead of various lexicons) as confused, in an uproar, beside themselves, undone, blown away, thoroughly disoriented, completely uncomprehending. — Frank Couch
This is not a soft, cuddly Holy Spirit; this is an uncontrollable and unpredictable Spirit … the Spirit is not our private possession — it’s not “mine.” The Spirit is given to the whole community. — Patrick Johnson
The Spirit is like breath, as close as the lungs, the chest, the lips, the fogged canvas where little fingers draw hearts, the tide that rises and falls twenty-three thousand times a day in a rhythm so intimate we forget to notice until it enervates or until a supine yogi says pay attention and its fragile power awes again. … The Spirit is like fire, deceptively polite in its dance atop the wax and wick of our church candles, but wild and mercurial as a storm when unleashed. … The Spirit is like a seal, an emblem bearing the family crest, a promise of belonging, protection, favor. …The Spirit is like wind, earth’s oldest sojourner, which in one place readies a sail, in another whittles a rock, in another commands the trees to bow, in another gently lifts a bridal veil. … The Spirit is like a bird, fragile alloy of heaven and earth, where wind and feather and flight meets breath and blood and bones. … The Spirit is like a womb, from which the living are born again. — Rachel Held Evans
Excerpt from Mindfulness Exercise by Thich Nhat Hanh (full article)
Just recognize: this is an in-breath, this is an out-breath. Very simple, very easy. In order to recognize your in-breath as in-breath, you have to bring your mind home to yourself. What is recognizing your in-breath is your mind, and the object of your mind—the object of your mindfulness—is the in-breath. Mindfulness is always mindful of something. When you drink your tea mindfully, it’s called mindfulness of drinking. When you walk mindfully, it’s called mindfulness of walking. And when you breathe mindfully, that is mindfulness of breathing.
So the object of your mindfulness is your breath, and you just focus your attention on it. Breathing in, this is my in-breath. Breathing out, this is my out-breath. When you do that, the mental discourse will stop. You don’t think anymore. You don’t have to make an effort to stop your thinking; you bring your attention to your in-breath and the mental discourse just stops. That is the miracle of the practice. You don’t think of the past anymore. You don’t think of the future. You don’t think of your projects, because you are focusing your attention, your mindfulness, on your breath.
Spirit as Flame and Fire
Do not feel lonely, the entire universe is inside you. Stop acting so small. You are the universe in ecstatic motion. Set your life on fire. Seek those who fan your flames. — attributed to Rumi
Love in its essence is spiritual fire. — Seneca
The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire. — Ferdinand Foch
Heat cannot be separated from fire, nor beauty from the eternal. — Dante Alighieri
We cannot tear out a single page of our life, but we can throw the whole book in the fire. — George Sand
You kindled me, heap of ashes that I am, into fire. — Cassandra Clare
… I am … setting fire to the forests at night when no one else is alive or awake however you choose to see it and I live in my own flames sometimes burning too bright and too wild to make things last or handle myself or anyone else and so I run. run run run far and wide until my bones ache and lungs split and it feels good. Hear that people? It feels good … ― Charlotte Eriksson
Keep a little fire burning; however small, however hidden. ― Cormac McCarthy, The Road
If you’re going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the gods, and the nights will flame with fire. You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. It’s the only good fight there is. ― Charles Bukowski
There may be a great fire in our soul, yet no one ever comes to warm himself at it, and the passers-by see only a wisp of smoke. ― attributed to Vincent van Gogh
The Moth don’t care when he sees The Flame. He might get burned, but he’s in the game. And once he’s in, he can’t go back, he’ll Beat his wings ’til he burns them black… No, The Moth don’t care when he sees The Flame … The Moth don’t care if The Flame is real, ‘Cause Flame and Moth got a sweetheart deal. And nothing fuels a good flirtation, Like Need and Anger and Desperation… No, The Moth don’t care if The Flame is real … ― Aimee Mann
Spirit as Wind and Breath
The wind that gave our grandfather his first breath also received his last sigh. The wind also gives our children the spirit of life. — Chief Seattle
The breath of life is in the sunlight and the hand of life is in the wind. ― Kahlil Gibran
Close your eyes and turn your face into the wind. Feel it sweep along your skin in an invisible ocean of exultation. Suddenly, you know you are alive. ― Vera Nazarian
The wind shows us how close to the edge we are. — Joan Didion
To most human beings, wind is an irritation. To most trees, wind is a song. ― Mokokoma Mokhonoana
When men sow the wind it is rational to expect that they will reap the whirlwind. — Frederick Douglass
The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails. — William Arthur Ward
What is the good of your stars and trees, your sunrise and the wind, if they do not enter into our daily lives?— E. M. Forster
You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself. That is something you have charge of. — Jim Rohn
I hear the wind among the trees Playing the celestial symphonies; I see the branches downward bent, Like keys of some great instrument. — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Your hearts are troubled, and it is no sacrilege to let them be so … — Maren Tirabassi
I thought I could describe a state; make a map of sorrow. Sorrow, however, turns out to be not a state but a process. ― C.S. Lewis
Your name is upon my tongue your image is in my sight your memory is in my heart where can I send these words that I write ? — Rumi
Naming Change and Loss: Recently, our community has experienced deep challenges, traumas and losses. These are events that occur beyond the pandemic’s complexities, or are exacerbated because of them. These range from life-limiting diagnoses and deaths to accidents and mental health crises. They may also include other life-altering changes, such as major shifts in relationship status, safety and wellbeing, shelter/housing, vocation/livelihood, and/or economic viability.
Some of these circumstances are reversible. Some are permanent and irrevocable. And heartbreaking.
We have been working on hope and resilience for months now. Coping. Managing. Not just surviving, but thriving at times. Reinventing ourselves. Being creative. Optimistic. Yes, and we’re good at it. We keep rising up and responding.
Today … let us, just for a moment, bear witness to the great sorrows that have also shaken us in the past several weeks, or in the last 24 hours. This message is to acknowledge wherever you may find yourself in this reality, in this time. Below are a few offerings. They presume to make things right or better. They don’t pretend to fix or explain anything. They simply articulate something about where we find ourselves. Just for now, let us be present to the truth and pain of these times, as well as the energetic ‘recovery and reopening and renewal’ strategies we implement.
Let us say here, too, that no words by any person, even those who have also known great suffering, are equal to all the realities that are happening among us. Accept whatever grace or support you may find in these words, put down what isn’t helpful or relevant to your situation. Know these are offered with love, but what we truly mean to offer is our presence in your life. — Rev Gail Pomeroy Doktor
Blessing for the Brokenhearted (excerpt) — Jan Richardson Let us agree for now that we will not say the breaking makes us stronger or that it is better to have this pain than to have done without this love. Let us promise we will not tell ourselves time will heal the wound, when every day our waking opens it anew. Perhaps for now it can be enough to simply marvel at the mystery of how a heart so broken can go on beating, as if it were made for precisely this— as if it knows the only cure for love is more of it, as if it sees the heart’s sole remedy for breaking is to love still …
For Grief (excerpt)— John O’Donohue
When you lose someone you love, Your life becomes strange, The ground beneath you gets fragile, Your thoughts make your eyes unsure … words have no confidence. Your heart has grown heavy with loss; And though this loss has wounded others too, No one knows what has been taken from you When the silence of absence deepens.
… There are days when you wake up happy; Again inside the fullness of life, Until the moment breaks And you are thrown back Onto the black tide of loss.
Days when you have your heart back, You are able to function well Until in the middle of work or encounter, Suddenly with no warning, You are ambushed by grief.
It becomes hard to trust yourself. All you can depend on now is that Sorrow will remain faithful to itself. More than you, it knows its way And will find the right time To pull and pull the rope of grief Until that coiled hill of tears Has reduced to its last drop.
Gradually, you will learn acquaintance With the invisible form of your departed; And, when the work of grief is done, The wound of loss will heal And you will have learned To wean your eyes From that gap in the air And be able to enter the hearth In your soul where your loved one Has awaited your return All the time.
Musings on Grief, Loss & Sudden Change
This business of having been issued a body is deeply confusing… Bodies are so messy and disappointing. Every time I see the bumper sticker that says “We think we’re humans having spiritual experiences, but we’re really spirits having human experiences,” I (a) think it’s true and (b) want to ram the car. — Anne Lamott
The Abyss of Grief (full essay here): Suddenly, the sacred fire I have been chasing all my life engulfed me. I was plunged into the abyss … So shattered I could not see my own hand in front of my face … Immolated, I found myself resting in fire. Drowning, I surrendered, and discovered I could breathe under water. … This was the sacred emptiness … And I hated it. I didn’t want vastness of being. I wanted my baby back. But I discovered that there was nowhere to hide when radical sorrow unraveled the fabric of my life. I could rage against the terrible unknown—and I did, for I am human and have this vulnerable body, passionate heart, and complicated mind—or I could turn toward the cup, bow to the Cupbearer, and say, “Yes.” I didn’t do it right away, nor was I able to sustain it when I did manage a breath of surrender. But gradually I learned to soften into the pain and yield to my suffering … I became acutely aware of my connectedness … everywhere … who had lost … who were, at this very moment, hearing the impossible news … Grief strips us. According to the mystics, this is good news. … Few among us would ever opt for the narrow gate of grief, even if it were guaranteed to lead us to God. But if our most profound losses—the death of a loved one, the ending of a marriage or a career, catastrophic disease or alienation from community—bring us to our knees before that threshold, we might as well enter … — Mirabai Starr for the Center for Action and Contemplation
Option B:Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy. This is a book available through the library or White Birch Books (place an order); it’s also a community-building resource through their website. Resources for grief due to death, domestic violence/trauma/abuse and other challenges.
If you suddenly and Unexpectedly feel joy, Don’t hesitate. Give in to it. There are plenty Of lives and whole towns Destroyed or about to be. We are not wise, And not very often kind. And much can never be redeemed. Still, life has some possibility left. Perhaps this is its way Of fighting back, that sometimes Something happens Better than all the riches Or power in the world. It could be anything, But very likely You notice it in the instant When love begins. Anyway, that’s often the case. Anyway, whatever it is, Don’t be afraid Of its plenty. Joy is not made To be a crumb.
ANTIDOTES to FEAR of DEATH — Rebecca Elson
Sometimes as an antidote To fear of death, I eat the stars.
Those nights, lying on my back, I suck them from the quenching dark Til they are all, all inside me, Pepper hot and sharp.
Sometimes, instead, I stir myself Into a universe still young, Still warm as blood:
No outer space, just space, The light of all the not yet stars Drifting like a bright mist, And all of us, and everything Already there But unconstrained by form.
And sometime it’s enough To lie down here on earth Beside our long ancestral bones: To walk across the cobble fields Of our discarded skulls, Each like a treasure, like a chrysalis, Thinking: whatever left these husks Flew off on bright wings.
Kindness (excerpt) — Naomi Shihab Nye
Before you know what kindness really is you must lose things, feel the future dissolve in a moment like salt in a weakened broth. What you held in your hand, what you counted and carefully saved … … You must see how this could be you, … someone who journeyed through the night with plans and the simple breath that kept him alive. Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside, you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing. You must wake up with sorrow. You must speak to it till your voice catches the thread of all sorrows and you see the size of the cloth. Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore, only kindness that ties your shoes and sends you out into the day to gaze at bread, only kindness that raises its head from the crowd of the world to say It is I you have been looking for, and then goes with you everywhere like a shadow or a friend.
The Peace of Wild Things — Wendell Berry
When despair for the world Grows in me And I wake in the night At the least sound In fear of what my life And my children’s lives may be, I go and lie down Where the wood drake Rests in his beauty on the water, And the great heron feeds. I come into the peace of wild things Who do not tax their lives With forethought of grief. I come into the presence Of still water. And I feel above me The day-blind stars Waiting with their light. For a time I rest in the grace Of the world, And am free.
Excerpt from writings by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Contrary to the general assumption, the first days of grief are not the worst. The immediate reaction is usually shock and numbing disbelief. One has undergone an amputation. After shock comes acute early grief which is a kind of “condensed presence” — almost a form of possession. One still feels the lost limb down to the nerve endings. It is as if the intensity of grief fused the distance between you and the dead. Or perhaps, in reality, part of one dies. Like Orpheus, one tries to follow the dead on the beginning of their journey. But one cannot, like Orpheus, go all the way, and after a long journey one comes back. If one is lucky, one is reborn. Some people die and are reborn many times in their lives. For others the ground is too barren and the time too short for rebirth. Part of the process is the growth of a new relationship with the dead, that “véritable ami mort” Saint-Exupéry speaks of. Like all gestation, it is a slow dark wordless process. While it is taking place one is painfully vulnerable. One must guard and protect the new life growing within– like a child.
One must grieve, and one must go through periods of numbness that are harder to bear than grief. One must refuse the easy escapes offered by habit and human tradition. The first and most common offerings of family and friends are always distractions (“Take her out”–“Get her away” –“Change the scene”–“Bring in people to cheer her up”–“Don’t let her sit and mourn” [when it is mourning one needs]). On the other hand, there is the temptation to self-pity or glorification of grief. “I will instruct my sorrows to be proud,” Constance cries in a magnificent speech in Shakespeare’s King John. Despite her words, there is not aristocracy of grief. Grief is a great leveler. There is no highroad out.
Courage is a first step, but simply to bear the blow bravely is not enough. Stoicism is courageous, but it is only a halfway house on the long road. It is a shield, permissible for a short time only. In the end, one has to discard shields and remain open and vulnerable. Otherwise, scar tissue will seal off the wound and no growth will follow. To grow, to be reborn, one must remain vulnerable– open to love but also hideously open to the possibility of more suffering.
Most of us do as well as possible, and some of it works okay, and we try to release that which doesn’t and which is never going to. … Making so much of it work is the grace of it; and not being able to make it work is double grace. Grace squared. — Anne Lamott
Grief turns out to be a place none of us know until we reach it. We anticipate (we know) that someone close to us could die, but we do not look beyond the few days or weeks that immediately follow such an imagined death. We misconstrue the nature of even those few days or weeks. We might expect if the death is sudden to feel shock. We do not expect the shock to be obliterative, dislocating to both body and mind. We might expect that we will be prostrate, inconsolable, crazy with loss. We do not expect to be literally crazy, cool customers who believe that their husband is about to return and need his shoes. In the version of grief we imagine, the model will be “healing.” A certain forward movement will prevail. The worst days will be the earliest days. We imagine that the moment to most severely test us will be the funeral, after which this hypothetical healing will take place. When we anticipate the funeral we wonder about failing to “get through it,” rise to the occasion, exhibit the “strength” that invariably gets mentioned as the correct response to death. We anticipate needing to steel ourselves the for the moment: will I be able to greet people, will I be able to leave the scene, will I be able even to get dressed that day? We have no way of knowing that this will not be the issue. We have no way of knowing that the funeral itself will be anodyne, a kind of narcotic regression in which we are wrapped in the care of others and the gravity and meaning of the occasion. Nor can we know ahead of the fact (and here lies the heart of the difference between grief as we imagine it and grief as it is) the unending absence that follows, the void, the very opposite of meaning, the relentless succession of moments during which we will confront the experience of meaninglessness itself. — Joan Didion, Year of Magical Thinking
When great trees fall, rocks on distant hills shudder, lions hunker down in tall grasses, and even elephants lumber after safety.
When great trees fall in forests, small things recoil into silence, their senses eroded beyond fear.
When great souls die, the air around us becomes light, rare, sterile. We breathe, briefly. Our eyes, briefly, see with a hurtful clarity. Our memory, suddenly sharpened, examines, gnaws on kind words unsaid, promised walks never taken.
Great souls die and our reality, bound to them, takes leave of us. Our souls, dependent upon their nurture, now shrink, wizened. Our minds, formed and informed by their radiance, fall away. We are not so much maddened as reduced to the unutterable ignorance of dark, cold caves.
And when great souls die, after a period peace blooms, slowly and always irregularly. Spaces fill with a kind of soothing electric vibration. Our senses, restored, never to be the same, whisper to us. They existed. They existed. We can be. Be and be better. For they existed.
Stay — Jan Richardson A Blessing for Ascension Day
I know how your mind rushes ahead trying to fathom what could follow this. What will you do, where will you go, how will you live?
You will want to outrun the grief. You will want to keep turning toward the horizon, watching for what was lost to come back, to return to you and never leave again.
For now hear me when I say all you need to do is to still yourself is to turn toward one another is to stay.
Wait and see what comes to fill the gaping hole in your chest. Wait with your hands open to receive what could never come except to what is empty and hollow.
You cannot know it now, cannot even imagine what lies ahead, but I tell you the day is coming when breath will fill your lungs as it never has before and with your own ears you will hear words coming to you new and startling. You will dream dreams and you will see the world ablaze with blessing.
Wait for it. Still yourself. Stay.
Songs about Ascension:
Highlands by Hillsong (Christian rock/contemporary)
Questions to consider about re-entering ‘real’/daily life and waiting for the arrival or support and help … themes from Acts 1: 6-10:
Can you name peak moment(s) or mountain-top experience(s) in your life?
When you re-enter daily life, after pinnacle moments, how are you changed? What do you carry with you from such times?
Can you retain or cultivate some of the blessings or gifts of such exceptional times? What practices help you do so?
When you’re told to wait for something to come … told to ‘shelter in place’ until the resources you need arrive … what is that like? Waiting? Preparing? What is difficult about waiting? What opportunities does a period of waiting offer?
Meditations on Farewell & Being Left Behind
If we have grown weary in this season. If we have become overwhelmed. If we are living with fear or anxiety or worry about what lies ahead. If the swirl … has become intense. If time is moving strangely. If grief has been a traveling companion. If the ground beneath us has given way. If resurrection seems less than certain … This is the day that calls us to breathe. This is the day that invites us to make a space within the weariness, the fear, the ache. This is the day that beckons us to turn toward one another, and to remember we do not breathe alone. — Jan Richardson
It is queer to be in a place when someone has gone. It is not two other places, the place that they were there in, and the place that was there before they came. I can’t get used to this third place or to staying behind. ― Elizabeth Bowen
For Sayonara, literally translated, ‘Since it must be so,’ of all the good-byes I have heard is the most beautiful. Unlike the Auf Wiedershens and Au revoirs, it does not try to cheat itself by any bravado ‘Till we meet again,’ any sedative to postpone the pain of separation. It does not evade the issue like the sturdy blinking Farewell. Farewell is a father’s good-bye. It is – ‘Go out in the world and do well, my son.’ It is encouragement and admonition. It is hope and faith. But it passes over the significance of the moment; of parting it says nothing. It hides its emotion. It says too little. While Good-bye (‘God be with you’) and Adios say too much. They try to bridge the distance, almost to deny it. Good-bye is a prayer, a ringing cry. ‘You must not go – I cannot bear to have you go! But you shall not go alone, unwatched. God will be with you. God’s hand will over you’ and even – underneath, hidden, but it is there, incorrigible – ‘I will be with you; I will watch you – always.’ It is a mother’s good-bye. But Sayonarasays neither too much nor too little. It is a simple acceptance of fact. All understanding of life lies in its limits. All emotion, smoldering, is banked up behind it. But it says nothing. It is really the unspoken good-bye, the pressure of a hand, ‘Sayonara. ― Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Thoughts on Waiting
The wait is long. My dream of you does not end. — Nuala o”Faolain
Behind every fear, there is a miracle waiting. — Marianne Williamson
We have to let go of the life we planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. — Joseph Campbell
Christian Commentary on Ascension
Most of Christianity has been doing just that, straining to find the historical Jesus “up there.” Where did he go? We’ve been obsessed with the question because we think the universe is divided into separate levels—heaven and earth. But it is one universe and all within it is transmuted and transformed by the glory of God. The whole point of the Incarnation and Risen Body is that the Christ is here—and always was! But now we have a story that allows us to imagine it just might be true. Jesus didn’t go anywhere. He became the universal omnipresent Body of Christ. That’s why the final book of the Bible promises us a new heaven and a new earth. (Revelation 21:1), not an escape from earth. We focused on “going” to heaven instead of living on earth as Jesus did—which makes heaven and earth one. It is heaven all the way to heaven. What you choose now is exactly what you choose to be forever. God will not disappoint you. — Richard Rohr
I’ll be honest, Jesus, Ascension Day brings up some abandonment issues for me. I know you promised we wouldn’t be alone, that you would send a Helper and Advocate, full of power and truth and ready to guide, but let’s face it: the fire of the Spirit is the wild kind. One moment I sense that it’s blazing like the burning bush, the next it’s like it’s out with a poof. I still haven’t figured it out. I still haven’t been able to pin it down. —Rachel Held Evans
No, we’ll probably never physically see Jesus. But we can see the people that represent Jesus. The church community is the first thing that comes into my mind. We all represent Jesus in the good things we do. I mean, we’re not the perfect servants of God. Nobody is perfect. But we see people do good things for other people all the time… As a church community, wehelp, we serve God and others, too. We pray. We forgive and also ask to be forgiven. That’s just the little part of God inside of us that tells us to do good. So WE are the Jesus of the Earth. — Katie from Ebenezer Lutheran
Thoughts on Ascension & Heaven
True change is within, leave the outside as it is. — Dalai Lama
Ascensions into heaven are like falling leaves … sad and happy all at the same time … Going away isn’t really sad … especially when your going enables a new kind of presence to be born. — Ernest Hemingway
The hunger to belong is not merely a desire to be attached to something. It is rather sensing that great transformation and discovery become possible when belonging is sheltered and true.— John O’Donohue
Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads. — Henry David Thoreau
At His Ascension our Lord entered Heaven, and He keeps the door open for humanity to enter. — Oswald Chambers
Earth’s crammed with heaven… But only he who sees, takes off his shoes. — Elizabeth Barrett Browning
The connections we make in the course of a life–maybe that’s what heaven is. — Fred Rogers
There’s always another level up. There’s always another ascension. More grace, more light, more generosity, more compassion, more to shed, more to grow. — Elizabeth Gilbert
Ah, paths of the soul, mysterious ways of the heart! One must walk their full lengths before facing the supreme equation of Eternal Life. It is essential for you to live all their conflicts and to know them fully in the long process of spiritual ascension. — Andre Luiz Moreira
Jesus raised our eyes above and beyond the narrow limits of our … lives, showed us other horizons, gives us a world beyond our ourselves. — Joan Chittister
To write the true natural history of the world, we should need to be able to follow it from within. It would thus appear no longer as an interlocking succession of structural types replacing one another, but as an ascension of inner sap spreading out in a forest of consolidated instincts. Right at its base, the living world is constituted by conscious clothes in flesh and bone. — Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
The way to heaven is ascending; we must be content to travel uphill, though it be hard and tiresome, and contrary to the natural bias of our flesh … Resolution One: I will live for God. Resolution Two: If no one else does, I still will. … Grace is but glory begun, and glory is but grace perfected. … The happiness of the creature consists in rejoicing in God, by which also God is magnified and exalted. — Jonathan Edwards
Heaven is not an eternally dull existence but rather the completion of a journey toward a promised encounter with the Lord. — Pope Francis
The Ascension is actually the birth of the Inner You expressed as the spiritual individualism of the inner particle state. — Stuart Wilde
Aging is a staircase – the upward ascension of the human spirit, bringing us into wisdom, wholeness and authenticity. As you may know, the entire world operates on a universal law: entropy, the second law of thermodynamics. Entropy means that everything in the world, everything, is in a state of decline and decay, the arch. There’s only one exception to this universal law, and that is the human spirit, which can continue to evolve upwards. — Jane Fonda
Through the Holy Spirit comes our restoration to paradise, our ascension into the kingdom of heaven, our return to the adoption of sons, our liberty to call God our Father, our being made partakers of the grace of Christ, our being called children of light, our sharing in eternal glory, and, in a word, our being brought into a state of all “fulness of blessing,” both in this world and in the world to come, of all the good gifts that are in store for us, by promise hereof, through faith, beholding the reflection of their grace as though they were already present, we await the full enjoyment. — Saint Basil