Motherhood has powerfully reinforced for me the significance of the fact that when God was most vulnerable – in the womb, nursing at the breast, as a child, at death – God was wholly entrusted to the care of women. I find that frighteningly profound. — Rachel Held Evans
We are born of love. Love is our mother. – Rumi
Songs about and for Mothers:
- Mama Said by Shirelles (rock)
- What’s Going On by Marvin Gaye (rock)
- Supermarket Flowers by Ed Sheeran (pop)
- Love Like This by Lauren Daigle (Christian pop)
- Mama’s Song by Carrie Underwood (country)
- Dear Mama by Tupac Shakur (rap ballad)
- Song for Mama by Boyz 2 Men (pop)
- Like My Mother Does by Lauren Alaina (country)
- Mom by Garth Brooks (country)
- Thank You by Good Charlotte (pop ballad)
- Mother Like Mine by The Band Perry (country)
- Mama Liked the Roses by Elvis Presley (rock ballad)
- When We Fall Apart by Ryan Stevenson with Vince Gill & Amy Grant (country)
Songs by, about, and for Women:
- Girl on Fire by Alicia Keyes (pop): https://youtu.be/J91ti_MpdHA
- You Say by Lauren Daigle (Christian): https://youtu.be/sIaT8Jl2zpI
- Run the World by Beyonce (pop/rap/R&B): https://youtu.be/VBmMU_iwe6U
- This One’s for the Girls by Martina McBride (pop): https://youtu.be/oTowId2CWHA
- Woman by Kesha (country): https://youtu.be/lXyA4MXKIKo
- Ladies First by Queen Latifah (rap): https://youtu.be/8Qimg_q7LbQ
- Can’t Hold Us Down by Christina Aguilera (hiphop/pop): https://youtu.be/dg8QgUIKXHw
- You Know My Name by Tasha Cobbs Leonard (Christian): https://youtu.be/t7owFiihXgg
- Roar by Katy Perry (pop): https://youtu.be/CevxZvSJLk8
- I’m Coming Out by Diana Ross (R&B): https://youtu.be/F-mjl63e0ms
- Respect by Aretha Franklin (R&B): https://youtu.be/6FOUqQt3Kg0
- Stronger by Kel.ly Clarkson (country/pop): https://youtu.be/Xn676-fLq7I
- Just a Girl by No Doubt (indie/pop): https://youtu.be/PHzOOQfhPFg
- Born This Way by Lady Gaga (rock/pop): https://youtu.be/wV1FrqwZyKw
- Ain’t Your Mama by Jennifer Lopez (pop): https://youtu.be/Pgmx7z49OEk
- Fight Song by Rachel Platten (pop): https://youtu.be/xo1VInw-SKc
- Confident by Demi Lovato (pop): https://youtu.be/cwLRQn61oUY
- Independent Woen Pt 1 by Destiny’s Child (pop): https://youtu.be/0lPQZni7I18
- I’m Every Woman by Whitney Houston (pop): https://youtu.be/H7_sqdkaAfo
Blessing the Mothers — Jan Richardson
Blessing the Mothers
Who are our
a space of blessing
with their own being:
with the belly
the bone and
if not with these,
then with the
that offers itself
and grow wide,
to gather itself
Who lean into
the wonder and terror
of loving what
they can hold
but cannot contain.
in some part of themselves
a corner of consciousness
keeping perpetual vigil.
that the story
is what endures
is what binds us
is what runs deeper
even than blood
and so they spin them
of what abides
on what remains:
a simple gladness
that latches onto us
and graces us
on our way.
|A Litany of Women for the Church — Joan Chittister|
Dear God, creator of women in your own image,
born of a woman in the midst
of a world half women,
carried by women to … fields around the globe,
made known by women to all the children of the earth,
give to the women of our time
the strength to persevere,
the courage to speak out,
the faith to believe in you beyond
all systems and institutions
so that your face on earth may be seen in all its beauty,
so that men and women become whole
We call on the holy women
who went before us,
channels of Your Word
in testaments old and new,
to intercede for us
so that we might be given the grace
to become what they have been
for … God.
… Saint Esther, who pleaded against power
for the liberation of the people, –Pray for us.
Saint Judith, who routed the plans of men
and saved the community,
Saint Deborah, laywoman and judge, who led
the people of God,
Saint Elizabeth of Judea, who recognized the value
of another woman,
Saint Mary Magdalene, minister of Jesus,
the first evangelist of the Christ,
Saint Scholastica, who taught her brother Benedict
to honor the spirit above the system,
Saint Hildegard, who suffered interdict
for the doing of right,
Saint Joan of Arc, who put no law above the law of God,
Saint Clare of Assisi, who confronted the pope
with the image of woman as equal,
Saint Julian of Norwich, who proclaimed for all of us
the motherhood of God,
Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, who knew the call
to priesthood in herself,
Saint Catherine of Siena, to whom the pope listened,
Saint Teresa of Avila, who brought women’s gifts
to the reform of the church,
Saint Edith Stein, who brought fearlessness to faith,
Saint Elizabeth Seton, who broke down boundaries
between lay women and religious
by wedding motherhood and religious life,
Saint Dorothy Day, who led the church
in a new sense of justice,
Mary, mother of Jesus,
who heard the call of God and answered,
Mary, mother of Jesus,
who drew strength from the woman Elizabeth,
Mary, mother of Jesus,
who underwent hardship bearing Christ,
Mary, mother of Jesus,
who ministered at Cana,
Mary, mother of Jesus,
inspirited at Pentecost,
Mary mother of Jesus,
who turned the Spirit of God
into the body and blood of Christ, pray for us. Amen.
Prayer for those getting through mother’s day
— Maren Tirabassi
Spirit of gentleness,
wrap all your holy loving
around all of those
just hoping to get through a holiday
that washes them in tears –
because their mothers are dead
or their children are dead,
because they wanted children
but did not have them,
or their children don’t want them
right now in their lives,
or their parents don’t love
a gender identity so dearly chosen,
because their childhood family
or their present one
is marked by abuse,
because there is great distance
of miles or minds
of border wall or prison wall
and someone they love,
because of a miscarriage,
a failed search for a biological parent,
a lonely foster care bedroom,
a desperate attempt
to be a perfect stepparent
or no attempt made at all,
or just because this holiday
holds up a magnifying glass
to the heart.
On this Mother’s Day, I celebrate and give thanks for my own mother … and all the mothers who have been able to provide this tremendous gift. And I offer prayers for those women who, owing to the gaps and fissures in their own landscape, have left pain and emptiness in the space where a mother should have been. For those who choose to enter into the empty, motherless places—the “othermothers” who come in the form of teachers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters, neighbors, friends—bless you and thank you for your mothering hearts. For all the mothers—mothers by blood, mothers by heart—a blessing to you on this Mother’s Day. — Jan Richardson
Essay about Mother’s Day — Anne Lamott
I did not raise my son, Sam, to celebrate Mother’s Day. … Mother’s Day celebrates a huge lie about the value of women: that mothers are superior beings, that they have done more with their lives and chosen a more difficult path. Ha! Every woman’s path is difficult, and many mothers were as equipped to raise children as wire monkey mothers. I say that without judgment: It is, sadly, true. An unhealthy mother’s love is withering.
The illusion is that mothers are automatically happier, more fulfilled and complete. But the craziest, grimmest people this Sunday will be the mothers themselves, stuck herding their own mothers and weeping children and husbands’ mothers into seats at restaurants. These mothers do not want a box of chocolate. These mothers are on a diet.
…. the holiday makes all non-mothers, and the daughters of dead mothers, and the mothers of dead or severely damaged children, feel the deepest kind of grief and failure. The non-mothers must sit in their churches, temples, mosques, recovery rooms and pretend to feel good about the day while they are excluded from a holiday that benefits no one but Hallmark and See’s. There is no refuge — not at the horse races, movies, malls, museums. … You could always hide in a nice seedy bar, I suppose. Or an ER.
… Don’t get me wrong: There were times I could have literally died of love for my son, and I’ve felt stoned on his rich, desperate love for me. But I bristle at the whispered lie that you can know this level of love and self-sacrifice only if you are a parent. …
But my main gripe about Mother’s Day is that it feels incomplete and imprecise. The main thing that ever helped mothers was other people mothering them; a chain of mothering that keeps the whole shebang afloat. I am the woman I grew to be partly in spite of my mother, and partly because of the extraordinary love of her best friends, and my own best friends’ mothers, and from surrogates, many of whom were not women at all …
No one is more sentimentalized in America than mothers on Mother’s Day, but no one is more often blamed for the culture’s bad people and behavior. You want to give me chocolate and flowers? Great. I love them both. I just don’t want them out of guilt, and I don’t want them if you’re not going to give them to all the people who helped mother our children. But if you are going to include everyone, then make mine something like M&M’s, and maybe flowers you picked yourself, even from my own garden, the cut stems wrapped in wet paper towels, then tin foil and a waxed-paper bag from my kitchen drawers. I don’t want something special. I want something beautifully plain. Like everything else, it can fill me only if it is ordinary and available to all.
Flare (excerpt) — Mary Oliver
was the blue wisteria,
was the mossy stream out behind the house,
my mother, alas, alas,
did not always love her life,
heavier than iron it was
as she carried it in her arms, from room to room,
I bury her
in a box
in the earth
and turn away.
was a demon of frustrated dreams,
was a breaker of trust,
was a poor, thin boy with bad luck.
He followed God, there being no one else
he could talk to;
he swaggered before God, there being no one else
who would listen.
this was his life.
I bury it in the earth.
I sweep the closets.
I leave the house.
I mention them now,
I will not mention them again.
It is not lack of love
nor lack of sorrow.
But the iron thing they carried, I will not carry.
I give them–one, two, three, four–the kiss of courtesy,
of sweet thanks,
of anger, of good luck in the deep earth.
May they sleep well. May they soften.
But I will not give them the kiss of complicity.
I will not give them the responsibility for my life.
There was something so valuable about what happened when one became a mother. For me it was the most liberating thing that ever happened to me. . . . Liberating because the demands that children make are not the demands of a normal ‘other.’ The children’s demands on me were things that nobody ever asked me to do. To be a good manager. To have a sense of humor. To deliver something that somebody could use. And they were not interested in all the things that other people were interested in, like what I was wearing or if I were sensual. . . . Somehow all of the baggage that I had accumulated as a person about what was valuable just fell away. I could not only be me — whatever that was — but somebody actually needed me to be that. . . . If you listen to [your children], somehow you are able to free yourself from baggage and vanity and all sorts of things, and deliver a better self, one that you like. The person that was in me that I liked best was the one my children seemed to want. — Toni Morrison
[T]he point is that freedom is choosing your responsibility. . . . A lady doctor has to be able to say, “I want to go home.” And the one at home has the right to say, “I want to go to medical school.” That’s all there is to that, but then the choices cause problems where there are no problems because “either/or” seems to set up the conflict, first in language and then in life. . . . I tried hard to be both the ship and the safe harbor at the same time, to be able to make a house and be on the job market and still nurture the children. . . . No one should be asked to make a choice between a home or a career. Why not have both? It’s all possible.
Black women [need to] pay . . . attention to the ancient properties — which for me means the ability to be “the ship” and the “safe harbor.” Our history as Black women is the history of women who could build a house and have some children and there was no problem. . . . What we have known is how to be complete human beings, so that we did not let education keep us from our nurturing abilities. . . [T]o lose that is to diminish ourselves unnecessarily. It is not a question, it’s not a conflict. You don’t have to give up anything. You choose your responsibilities.— Toni Morrison
SONGS anout WALKING TOGETHER and EMMAUS:
- I Shall Not Walk Alone by Ben Harper (R&B/hymn):https://youtu.be/zPH-E9hyaUw
- Walk of Life by Dire Straits (rock/pop): https://youtu.be/kd9TlGDZGkI
- Walking the Wire by Imagine Dragons (pop): https://youtu.be/1nv9br7P7g0
- A Thousand Miles by Vanessa Carlton (pop): https://youtu.be/Cwkej79U3ek
- Every Day Is a Winding Road by Sheryl Crow (pop): https://youtu.be/khrx-zrG460
- Walking In My Shoes by Fever 333 (punk/rock): https://youtu.be/6Qbiq40SPCo
- Walk by Foo Fighters (pop): https://youtu.be/4PkcfQtibmU
- Walk Together by AFS International Cultural Program (ballad): https://youtu.be/RZ-nENihees
- Walking Together by Sophie and the Sailors (folk): https://youtu.be/Oq6wARdXexg
- Walking Forward Together by Nancy Bodsworth (Christian): https://youtu.be/RtbGQS4YXyQ
- Walking Together by Piet Veerman (pop): https://youtu.be/YBN-8MNOrfA
- On the Journey to Emmaus by Marty Haugen (Christian): https://youtu.be/8rYYd6nRurg
- On the Road to Emmaus by Steeles (Christian):: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6-E_mA2linM&feature=youtu.be
- Emmaus by Steve Green (Christian): https://youtu.be/ouMMZPuPhLQ
- Emmaus by Tony Alonso (Christian): : https://youtu.be/xBmqxMAe29g
- Road to Emmaus by Margaret Pericleous (Christian): Video Recitation: https://youtu.be/o-g3upsVmPQ
- The Upper Room from the collection The Road to Emmaus by Spencer Reese (Christian): https://youtu.be/wPS73RYv1_w
Servant Girl at Emmaus
— Denise Levertov (inspired by the painting above by Diego Valázquez c.1620)
She listens, listens, holding her breath.
Surely that voice
is his—the one
who had looked at her, once,
across the crowd, as no one ever had looked?
Had seen her?
Had spoken as if to her?
Surely those hands were his,
taking the platter of bread from hers just now?
Hands he’d laid on the dying and made them well?
Surely that face—?
The man they’d crucified for sedition and blasphemy.
The man whose body disappeared from its tomb.
The man it was rumored now some women had seen this morning,
Those who had brought this stranger home to their table
don’t recognize yet with whom they sit.
But she in the kitchen,
absently touching the wine jug she’s to take in,
a young Black servant intently listening,
swings round and sees
the light around him
and is sure.
What is Hope?
— Rubem Alves – Brazilian Theologian
What is hope?
It is a presentiment that imagination is more real
and reality less real than it looks.
It is a hunch
that the overwhelming brutality of facts
that oppress and repress is not the last word.
It is a suspicion
that reality is more complex
than realism wants us to believe
and that the frontiers of the possible
are not determined by the limits of the actual
and that in a miraculous and unexpected way
life is preparing the creative events
which will open the way to freedom and resurrection….
The two, suffering and hope, live from each other.
Suffering without hope
produces resentment and despair,
hope without suffering
creates illusions, naiveté, and drunkenness….
Let us plant dates
even though those who plant them will never eat them.
We must live by the love of what we will never see.
This is the secret discipline.
It is a refusal to let the creative act
be dissolved in immediate sense experience
and a stubborn commitment to the future of our grandchildren.
Such disciplined love
is what has given prophets, revolutionaries and saints
the courage to die for the future they envisaged.
They make their own bodies
the seed of their highest hope.
Looking Back from Emmaus — Christine, Faith in Grey Places: https://faith.workthegreymatter.com/emmaus-poem-looking-back/
He told us
everything happened for a reason.
And you know, ordinarily,
I wouldn’t have believed him.
A stranger on the road
No one we know
Not even aware
of why we were grieving.
It’s such an easy thing
To dismiss the pain,
To claim there was a reason why,
Make it make sense,
Who are you comforting really?
But this time was different.
It wasn’t that he didn’t know
Or wouldn’t reckon with
What we’d witnessed.
He saw it all.
Much like he’d seen it all
As it was happening.
And that wasn’t the strangest part.
Because he didn’t tell us that
Some day we’ll look back
And it’ll all make sense.
Rather, we could look back now.
Like everything pointed to now.
The picture was complete
If we could but see it.
Our hearts were burning inside us.
And I wonder,
If we’d met him a day sooner,
What we’d have said.
Whether we’d have welcomed him
Or asked to share bread.
But I guess,
In this at least,
Everything happened for a reason.
Conversation — William Cowper
It happen’d on a solemn eventide,
Soon after He that was our surety died,
Two bosom friends, each pensively inclined,
The scene of all those sorrows left behind,
Sought their own village, busied as they went
In musings worthy of the great event:
They spake of him they loved, of him whose life,
Though blameless, had incurr’d perpetual strife,
Whose deeds had left, in spite of hostile arts,
A deep memorial graven on their hearts.
The recollection, like a vein of ore,
The farther traced enrich’d them still the more;
They thought him, and they justly thought him, one
Sent to do more than he appear’d to have done,
To exalt a people, and to place them high
Above all else, and wonder’d he should die.
Ere yet they brought their journey to an end,
A stranger join’d them, courteous as a friend,
And ask’d them with a kind engaging air
What their affliction was, and begg’d a share.
Inform’d, he gathered up the broken thread,
And truth and wisdom gracing all he said,
Explain’d, illustrated, and search’d so well
The tender theme on which they chose to dwell,
That reaching home, the night, they said is near,
We must not now be parted, sojourn here.
The new acquaintance soon became a guest,
And made so welcome at their simple feast,
He bless’d the bread, but vanish’d at the word,
And left them both exclaiming, ’Twas the Lord!
Did not our hearts feel all he deign’d to say,
Did they not burn within us by the way?
The Road to Emmaus — Sandra R. Duguid
There have been crucifixions, too,
in our town–innocents
gunned down in their doorways
or in school halls; or radiations
black outlines, three crosses
marked a sisters chest: no wonder
we walk in quiet rage, musing
And who, on this road, will join us,
of the worst news in the neighborhood,
but spelling out the history of the prophets
and a future:
Ought not Christ to have suffered these things
and to enter into his glory?
Could our hearts still burn within us?
Will we ask the stranger to stay?
Break bread? And how
will our well-hammered and nailed
kitchens and bedrooms appear to us
when we understand who he is
just as he steals away?
Emmaus 1 — Malcolm Guite — Luke 24:17 ‘He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” They stood still, their faces downcast’.
And do you ask what I am speaking of
Although you know the whole tale of my heart;
Its longing and its loss, its hopeless love?
You walk beside me now and take my part
As though a stranger, one who doesn’t know
The pit of disappointment, the despair
The jolts and shudders of my letting go,
My aching for the one who isn’t there.
And yet you know my darkness from within,
My cry of dereliction is your own,
You bore the isolation of my sin
Alone, that I need never be alone.
Now you reveal the meaning of my story
That I, who burn with shame, might blaze with glory.
Emmaus 2 — Malcolm Guite— Luke 24:25-26 Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?
We thought that everything was lost and gone,
Disaster on disaster overtook us
The night we left our Jesus all alone
And we were scattered, and our faith forsook us.
But oh that foul Friday proved far worse,
For we had hoped that he had been the one,
Till crucifixion proved he was a curse,
And on the cross our hopes were all undone.
Oh foolish foolish heart why do you grieve?
Here is good news and comfort to your soul:
Open your mind to scripture and believe
He bore the curse for you to make you whole
The living God was numbered with the dead
That He might bring you Life in broken bread.
Words of Remembering
— Maren Tirabassi
We come from heart-felt “Hosannas,”
and a long season
of feeling like withered fig trees.
We come from an alabaster jar
abundance of love and hard questions.
We recognize experiences
of betrayal, denial,
and the feeling that everyone we love
has fallen asleep and left us alone,
so we recognize this holy story.
We remember Jesus washed feet
and offered a covenant
of himself broken and poured out
for a small group of followers long ago
and for us in our time,
and was risen on Easter
though, even in the joy of resurrection,
he kept blessing and teaching,
and giving us hope to eat.
THE ROAD TO EMMAUS
— J. Michael Sparough, S.J.
Our eyes falling down to the ground,
Our hearts dry as the dust we trample.
A stranger joins our journey to despair.
Teasing out the details of what our hope had been,
He listens on and on until our grief can say no more,
Only then can his words water our withered spirits.
Gently chiding, strongly guiding, weaving a story
Of glory hidden within fabled prophecies of faith.
Later will we recall how fiercely our hearts did burn.
But now it is our turn, the time to beg him to linger,
A request he can never refuse, for his very presence
Is sacred space, every home he visits his sanctuary.
For those who have eyes to see, his bread blessed,
Broken and shared – so much more than merely a meal.
His visitation no longer con@ined to history.
This road we walked with him still beckons —
To journey back from where we once despaired,
Our eyes now open in hopeful recognition.
The Road to Emmaus
— Anna Louise Strong
How many tread, in the twilight,
With hearts that are crushed and still,
The road that leads to the valley,
Away from the templed hill.
They are leaving their beautiful city,
The place where their hopes turned fears;
And naught remains of their longings
Save bitter, hopeless tears.
The Comforter draws near them
As they their steps retrace,
But their eyes are dimmed with weeping,
They see not the Master’s face.
He walks in the twilight beside them,
Tenderly bidding: “Rejoice.”
But they see Him not for sorrow,
They know not the Master’s voice.
And he follows, patient, loving,
On to the journey’s end,
Till a light breaks in upon them,
And they see in the stranger their Friend.
And they know what seemed destruction
Was life in God’s great plan.
And they glimpse His wondrous workings
In the destiny of man.
Back to the beautiful city,
Back to the templed hill,
They turn with joy, proclaiming
“The Lord is with us still.”
— Jan Richardson
Already a blessing
in the walking
already a blessing
on the road
already a blessing
already a blessing
in the listening
already a blessing
in the burning hearts
already a blessing
in the almost evening
already a blessing
in the staying
already a blessing
at the table
already a blessing
in the bread
already a blessing
in the breaking
already a blessing
already a blessing
give us eyes
already a blessing
let us see.
Yet even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; rend your hearts and not your clothing. Return to the Lord your God, for God is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love…
WED, Feb 22
- ASHES to GO
- 8-10am: JTown Deli
- 10:15-11:30am: Autumn Nomad
- Noon-1:30pm: Glen Ledge Deli / McSheffreys North
- 2-3:45pm: JCC Sanctuary
- 4-4:30pm: Red Parka
- ASH WEDNESDAY SERVICE
- 7pm • Nativity Lutheran, North Conway
JCC attends Lutheran service to enjoy local clergy John Heropoulos , MDiv lead the liturgy
- 7pm • Nativity Lutheran, North Conway
MUSINGS on ASH
If you have become ash,
Then wait, you become a rose again.
And do not remember how often you have become ash,
But how often you were reborn in ashes to a new rose. ~ Rumi
I can hear the sizzle of newborn stars, and know anything of meaning, of the fierce magic emerging here. I am witness to flexible eternity, the evolving past, and I know we will live forever, as dust or breath in the face of stars, in the shifting pattern of winds. — Joy Harjo
SONGS about DUST & ASHES:
- Ashes by Celine Dion (pop):https://youtu.be/CX11yw6YL1w
- Dust In the Wind by Kansas (rock): https://youtu.be/tH2w6Oxx0kQ
- Ashes to Ashes by David Bowie (rock): https://youtu.be/HyMm4rJemtI
- Glimmer in the Dust by Hillsong (Christian): https://youtu.be/bYWgeEoVmhI
- Dust by Eli Young Band (pop): https://youtu.be/QN5QgYuuxs4
- Another One Bites the Dust by Queen (rock): https://youtu.be/rY0WxgSXdEE
- Dust by Steffany Gretzinger (Christian): https://youtu.be/yBJXMX8vti4
- Devils & Dust by Bruce Springsteen (rock): https://youtu.be/cG8ZQkeZvzc
- Ashes By Now by EmmyLou Harris (country): https://youtu.be/eSMqF8EtUsA
- Dirt to Dust by David Aldean (country): https://youtu.be/iaPHIcebF8I
- Ashes by Embrace (pop): https://youtu.be/EtQ9l0oQmXE
- Ashes by Meghan Trainor (pop): https://youtu.be/uwKg4pCRQfw
- Take These Ashes by Sarah Hart (Christian): https://youtu.be/QKQjYYtUZLY
WILL YOU MEET US? — Jan Richardson
Will you meet us in the ashes,
will you meet us in the ache
and show your face within our sorrow
and offer us your word of grace:
That you are life within the dying,
that you abide within the dust,
that you are what survives the burning,
that you arise to make us new.
And in our aching, you are breathing;
and in our weeping, you are here
within the hands that bear your blessing,
enfolding us within your love.
REND Your HEART
To receive this blessing, all you have to do
is let your heart break.
Let it crack open.
Let it fall apart / so that you can see
its secret chambers, the hidden spaces
where you have hesitated / to go.
Your entire life
is here, inscribed whole
upon your heart’s walls:
every path taken
or left behind,
every face you turned toward
or turned away,
every word spoken in love
or in rage,
every line of your life
you would prefer to leave
every story that shimmers
with treasures known
and those you have yet
It could take you days
to wander these rooms.
Forty, at least.
And so let this be
a season for wandering,
for trusting the breaking,
for tracing the rupture
that will return you
to the One who waits,
who works within
to make your heart
MARKED by ASHES (excerpt) — Walter Brueggeman
Ruler of the Night, Guarantor of the day . . .
This day — a gift from you.
This day — like none other you have ever given,
or we have ever received.
This Wednesday dazzles us
with gift and newness and possibility.
This Wednesday burdens us
with the tasks of the day,
for we are already halfway home
halfway back to committees and memos,
halfway back to calls and appointments,
halfway on to next Sunday,
halfway back, half frazzled, half expectant,
half turned toward you, half rather not.
This Wednesday is a long way from Ash Wednesday,
but all our Wednesdays are marked by ashes —
we begin this day with that taste of ash in our mouth:
of failed hope and broken promises,
of forgotten children and frightened women,
we ourselves are ashes to ashes,
dust to dust; we can taste our mortality
as we roll the ash around on our tongues.
We are able to ponder our ashness with some confidence,
only because our every Wednesday of ashes anticipates
your Easter victory over that dry, flaky taste of death.
On this Wednesday, we submit our ashen way to you —
you Easter parade of newness.
Before the sun sets, take our Wednesday and Easter us,
Easter us to joy and energy and courage and freedom;
Easter us that we may be fearless for your truth.
Come here and Easter our Wednesday
with mercy and justice and peace and generosity.
We pray as we wait for the
Risen One who comes soon.
PRAYER — Mary Oliver
May I never not be frisky,
May I never not be risque.
May my ashes, when you have them, friend,
and give them to the ocean,
leap in the froth of the waves,
still loving movement,
still ready, beyond all else,
to dance for the world.
MEDITATIONS on MUD & SOIL
― Thích Nhất Hạnh
It is possible of course to get stuck in the “mud” of life. It’s easy enough to notice mud all over you at times. The hardest thing to practice is not allowing yourself to be overwhelmed by despair. When you’re overwhelmed by despair, all you can see is suffering everywhere you look. You feel as if the worst thing is happening to you. But we must remember that suffering is a kind of mud that we need in order to generate joy and happiness. Without suffering, there’s no happiness. So we shouldn’t discriminate against the mud. We have to learn how to embrace and cradle our own suffering and the suffering of the world, with a lot of tenderness.
— and —
The soil of our mind contains many seeds, positive and negative. We are the gardeners who identify, water, and cultivate the best seeds.
Living Psalm 51—Ash Wednesday
CONFESSION for CREATION JUSTICE
Written by Maren Tirabassi
To any leader. A Psalm of David, when he took what he wanted, uncaring of the death and damage it caused, which was great.
Have mercy on us, O God,
with the love that shaped all creation,
for we confess that we have been the ones
who blotted out — made endangered and extinct —
creatures of air and land
by destroying their habitats.
If there is any clean water left, wash us,
but only after the creatures
of the oceans and lakes and rivers
return and are healed.
For we know our transgression —
we have torn off the tops of mountains
and our sin has fracked deep
into the very fissures of the earth.
Against you, melting your glaciers, we sin,
and we have done what is evil,
so that wildfires rage across
and the Amazon rainforest
and the fox and koala and ocelot
judge us by their death.
Indeed, we are guilty against the newly born
who will be eleven years-old,
when our greed changes their earth
beyond hope of repair.
You desire truth,
but we clutch lies about the climate.
Help us repent so we can hear wisdom,
and make us wise enough to repent.
Let us not be clean,
but dirty in a community garden,
and wet with sweat
because we have walked and biked,
taken buses instead of cars,
cleaned ourselves with quick showers.
Let us taste the joy of locavores,
celebrate grizzly, wolf, gray whale,
sea lion, panda,
who have come back to thriving.
Most of all — let our hearts be stirred
not by what makes us wealthy in money
but what makes us wealthy in future.
Create in us a pure heart, O God,
and renew in us
the Spirit that hovers over your creation.
Then we will let our children teach us,
honor sacred lands of indigenous peoples,
open our lips for national parks
and our mouths for wildlife refuges.
Deliver us from being destroyers, O God,
and give us tongues that call for change.
For you have no delight
when we pile abundance on abundance.
The gift that pleases you
is one pollinator saved —
butterfly and bee, O God, is our acceptable prayer.
Love is the bridge between you and everything. — Rumi
The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is to love and be loved in return. – Natalie Cole
Mankind was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The deals of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!
— Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
Love, in the New Testament, is not something you feel; it is something you do….Love seeks the well-being of others and is embodied in concrete efforts in their behalf. — Francis Taylor Gench
- SONGS about LOVE:
- Christmas Hallelujah performed by Caleb and Kelsey (adapted from Leonard Cohen’s anthem): https://youtu.be/V9ORdDGgzu8
- What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong (blues/rock): https://youtu.be/CWzrABouyeE
- One Day by Matisyahu (Jewish rock): https://youtu.be/WRmBChQjZPs
- One Love by Bob Marley ft Manu Chao (rock/raggae): https://youtu.be/4xjPODksI08
- Give Love by MC Yoga (rock/rap): https://youtu.be/rpVUih5nY9g
- Shine It All Around by Robert Plant & The Strange Sensation (rock): https://youtu.be/fJoarBi19QM
- Your Love Keeps Lifting Me Higher by Jackie Wilson (rock):https://youtu.be/mzDVaKRApcg
- Grateful: A Love Song to the World by Empty Hands Music (rap): https://youtu.be/sO2o98Zpzg8
- Ain’t No Mountain High by Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell (rock): https://youtu.be/-C_3eYj-pOM
- Bless the Broken Road by Rascal Flatts (country): https://youtu.be/8-vZlrBYLSU
- All for Love by Bryan Adam, Rod Stewart & Sting (rock):: https://youtu.be/n-AB7RJpOjY
- Amazing by One EskimO (wolrd music/ballad): https://youtu.be/_OwUIIeuw8w
- Love Is My Religion by Ziggy Marley (raggae): https://youtu.be/r-eXYJnV3V4
- Love Like This by Lauren Daigle (Christian): https://youtu.be/Br1q_i1RHPU
- Can You Feel the Love Tonight by Elton John (ballad): https://youtu.be/lFYBLwb3I84
- Union by Black-Eyed Peas & Sting (rock/rap): https://youtu.be/rT_-Ln7eWpw
- I Want to Know What Love Is by Foreigner (rock): https://youtu.be/4jA-_g_iSY0
- You Say by Lauren Daigle (Christian): https://youtu.be/sIaT8Jl2zpI
- God Only Knows by The Beach Boys (rock): https://youtu.be/AOMyS78o5YI
- Unconditionally by Katy Perry (rock): https://youtu.be/XjwZAa2EjKA
- Best of My Love by The Emotions (soul): https://youtu.be/B-Tb80rmPt4
- Thinking Out Loud by Ed Sheeran (pop): https://youtu.be/lp-EO5I60KA
- We Are Here by Alicia Keyes (pop): https://youtu.be/HrKmDgk8Edg
- I Swear by All-4-One (rock): https://youtu.be/25rL-ooWICU
- I Will Always Love You by Whitney Houston (rock):https://youtu.be/3JWTaaS7LdU=
- Live Like Youy’ve Loved by Hawk Nelson (Christian):https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_r47Xhkf20
- I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing by Aerosmith (rock): https://youtu.be/JkK8g6FMEXE
- Unchained Melody by The Righteous Brothers (rock): https://youtu.be/qiiyq2xrSI0
- I Just Called to Say I Love You by Stevie Wonder (rock): https://youtu.be/1bGOgY1CmiU
- Tonight I Celebrate My Love for You by Roberta Slack & Peabo Bryson (pop): https://youtu.be/4t0Xo3-Ga_4
- Just the Way Your Are by Billy Joel (rock): https://youtu.be/tJWM5FmZyqU
DANCE— Wendell Berry
… And I love you
as I love the dance that brings you
out of the multitude
in which you come and go.
Love changes, and in change is true.
I GOT KIN — Hafiz
So that your own heart
So God will think,
I got kin in that body!
I should start inviting that soul over
For coffee and
Because this is a food
Our starving world
Because that is the purest
TOUCHED By An ANGEL
— Maya Angelou
We, unaccustomed to courage
exiles from delight
live coiled in shells of loneliness
until love leaves its high holy temple
and comes into our sight
to liberate us into life.
and in its train come ecstasies
old memories of pleasure
ancient histories of pain.
Yet if we are bold,
love strikes away the chains of fear
from our souls.
We are weaned from our timidity
In the flush of love’s light
we dare be brave
And suddenly we see
that love costs all we are
and will ever be.
Yet it is only love
which sets us free.
Where there is love there is life. – Mahatma Gandhi
The greatest degree of inner tranquility comes from the development of love and compassion. The more we care for the happiness of others, the greater is our own sense of well-being. – Dalai Lama
Love is more than a noun – it is a verb; it is more than a feeling – it is caring, sharing, helping, sacrificing.– William Arthur Ward
Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it. — Rumi
Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage. – Lao Tzu
To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.– C.S. Lewis
… But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round—apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that—as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it! ― Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
The ancient Hebrew word “ahava” that is often translated as “love” in the Bible has a unique meaning too. Sadly, this amazing Hebrew word is hidden behind the nonchalant English term that everyone uses for everything. … Love or “ahava” in the Hebraic mind is very different in today’s culture. In the Hebrew, love is connected directly with action and obedience. Strong’s Exhaustive Dictionary defines ahava as “to have affection, sexually or otherwise, love, like, to befriend, to be intimate.” It brings to mind the idea of longing for or breathing for another. Hebraically ahava is a verb and a noun, it is an act of doing. Ahava is not just a feeling. — Daniel Rendelman
Nothing God ever does, or ever did, or ever will do, is separate from the love of God. — A.W.Tozer
… the action and behavior produced by love is distinctly countercultural. … In a society where so much is presented in terms of “self”—self-awareness, self-esteem, self-acceptance, self-image, self-realization—to present a way of existence in which a person lives for the other in a life of loving self-sacrifice will be highly provocative. Following the one who gave his life as a sacrifice for us will be humbling and undoubtedly costly in terms of human recognition and progress in life as secular society defines it.— zondervanacademic.com
I love you not only for what you are, but for what I am when I am with you. I love you not only for what you have made of yourself, but for what you are making of me. I love you for the part of me that you bring out. – Elizabeth Barrett Browning
In the end we discover that to love and let go can be the same thing.— Jack Kornfield
Let the beauty of what you love be what you do. – Rumi
You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching, Love like you’ll never be hurt, Sing like there’s nobody listening, And live like it’s heaven on earth. – William W. Purkey
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that. – Martin Luther King Jr.
Love is never lost. If not reciprocated, it will flow back and soften and purify the heart. – Washington Irving
Life is the first gift, love is the second, and understanding the third. – Marge Piercy
Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place. – Zora Neale Hurston
The chance to love and be loved exists no matter where you are. – Oprah Winfrey
No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another. – Charles Dickens, Dr. Marigold
MEDITATION on LOVE
— Howard Thurman
I’m continuing our thinking togetherabout the meaning of love. And today, I want to read a few verses from Moffatt’s translation of the 13th chapter of 1 Corinthians.
Love is very patient, very kind. Love knows no jealousy. Love makes no parade, gives itself no airs, is never rude, never selfish, never irritated,never resentful. Love is never glad when others go wrong. Love is gladdened by goodness, always slow to expose, always eager to believe the best, always hopeful, always patient.
The working definition that we are using is this– love is the experience of being dealt with at a point in oneself that is beyond all the good and beyond all the evil. To love is to deal with another person at a point in him that is beyond all the good and beyond all the evil.
There is something in the experience which has with it always a note of security, of emotional security. And security in its simplest terms means the experience of having one’s needs satisfied. And whoever is able to satisfy one’s needs, simple needs or complex needs, the response, because of this sense of satisfaction, is in terms of not only dependence but in terms of trust, in terms of confidence, in terms of affection, in terms of love.
It is for this reason that religion insists that God loves man and that it is man’s experience of the love of God which in the first instance enables him to be able to love anyone. I wonder if you take for granted the fact that so many of your own basic needs are satisfied by life. And if you take this for granted, then your attitude towards life may not be one of responsibility, of responsiveness, of reverence, of gratitude. It may be an attitude that is simply callous.
You may decide, for instance, that you elate the fresh air that you breathe and the cool water that you drink and all of the other simple creature ways by which your needs are satisfied. But if you reflect upon your total experience of life in this regard, then your attitude towards life will be one of reverence and towards the creator of life one of trust and confidence.
For the Upcoming 4th Sunday of Advent (and the week that follows) Focused on Love
ADVENT CANDLE-LIGHTING BLESSING— Maren Tirabassi(excerpt, full article with multiple liturgies: https://pilgrimwr.unitingchurch.org.au/?p=7304)
In our church and homes
we gather around wreaths
to pray our lost hopes, broken peace, limited joys, and love so hard to find and share in this season …
We affirm that our candles mean
we claim the power to call this season Advent, when God’s light comes into the world and nothing can overcome it.
We light the candles of hope, peace, and joy.
We now light the candle of love even when many things dim our sparkling
eg loneliness, racism, queer bashing, body shaming
God’s love illuminates hatred and a compassionate heart
and brightens the path to the birth of Christ.
Emmanuel, God be with us in the week to come lighting hope, peace, joy and love on the wick of our lives, so that we may shine on our world your unconditional welcome to all. Amen.
HANUKKAH BLESSING — from hias.org
Hanukkah 2022 will begin in the evening of Sunday,. Dec 18
and ends in the evening of Monday, Dec 26. Recite or sing these blessings as you light the Hanukkiyah each night during Hanukkah:
Baruch atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, asher kid’shanu b-mitzvotav, v-tzivanu l’hadlik ner
Blessed are you, Our God, Ruler of the Universe, who makes us holy through Your commandments,
and commands us to light the Hanukkah lights.
Baruch atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, she-asah nisim la-avoteinu v-imoteinu ba- yamim ha-heim
Blessed are you, Our God, Ruler of the Universe, who performed miracles for our ancestors in their
days at this season.
On the first night of Hanukkah add this blessing:
Baruch atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, shehecheyanu v-ki’y’manu v-higianu la-z’man ha-zeh.
Blessed are you, Our God, Ruler of the Universe, for giving us life, for sustaining us, and for enabling
us to reach this season
HANUKKAH 101 (excerpts) — full article: https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/hanukkah-101/
Hanukkah, or the Festival of Rededication, celebrates the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem after its defilement by the Syrian Greeks in 164 BCE. Although it is a late addition to the Jewish liturgical calendar, the eight-day festival of Hanukkah has become a beloved and joyous holiday. It is also known as the Festival of Lights and usually takes place in December, at the time of year when the days are shortest in the northern hemisphere.Historical Origins of Hanukkah
Beginning in 167 BCE, the Jews of Judea rose up in revolt against the oppression of King Antiochus IV Epiphanes of the Seleucid Empire. The military leader of the first phase of the revolt was Judah the Maccabee, the eldest son of the priest Mattityahu (Mattathias). In the autumn of 164, Judah and his followers were able to capture the Temple in Jerusalem, which had been turned into a pagan shrine. They cleansed it and rededicated it to Israel’s God. This event was observed in an eight-day celebration, which was patterned on Sukkot, the autumn festival of huts. Much later rabbinic tradition ascribes the length of the festival to a miraculous small amount of oil that burned for eight days.How to Celebrate Hanukkah at Home
Much of the activity of Hanukkah takes place at home. Central to the holiday is the lighting of the hanukkiah or menorah, an eight-branched candelabrum to which one candle is added on each night of the holiday until it is ablaze with light on the eighth night. In commemoration of the legendary cruse of oil, it is traditional to eat foods fried in oil. The most familiar Hanukkah foods are the European (Ashkenazi) potato pancakes, or latkes, and the Israeli favorite, jelly donuts, or sufganiyot. The tradition developed in Europe to give small amounts of money as well as nuts and raisins to children at this time. Under the influence of Christmas, which takes place around the same time of year, Hanukkah has evolved into the central gift-giving holiday in the Jewish calendar in the Western world.Celebrating Hanukkah in the Community
Since Hanukkah is not biblically ordained, the liturgy for the holiday is not well developed. It is actually a quite minor festival. However, it has become one of the most beloved of Jewish holidays. In an act of defiance against those in the past and in the present who would root out Jewish practice, the observance of Hanukkah has assumed a visible community aspect. Jews will often gather for communal celebrations and public candle lighting. At such celebrations, Hanukkah songs are sung and traditional games such as dreidel are played.Hanukkah’s Theology and Themes
Like Passover, Hanukkah is a holiday that celebrates the liberation from oppression. It also provides a strong argument in favor of freedom of worship and religion. In spite of the human action that is commemorated, never far from the surface is the theology that the liberation was possible only thanks to the miraculous support of the Divine.
As our dialogue progressed, we converged on eight pillars of joy. Four were qualities of the mind: perspective, humility, humor, and acceptance. Four were qualities of the heart: forgiveness, gratitude, compassion, and generosity. — Douglas Carlton Abrams, The Book of Joy
SONGS about JOY:
- Joy to the World by Pentatonix (acapella Christmas carol): https://youtu.be/-Xo64Q2ucQ8
- Joy by King & Country (country/pop/Christian): https://youtu.be/lA7n7TwPDmw
- Joy to the World (Jeremiah Was a Bullfrog) by Three Dog Night (rock): https://youtu.be/kyI1OImD7ow
- Song of Joy by Julio Iglesias (anthem): https://youtu.be/5ZYPA8BIvSQ
- Joy of my Life by Chris Stapleton (country): https://youtu.be/jsE_zp_4vyo
- Come On Get Higher by Matt Nathanson (folk rock): https://youtu.be/aHx4BlF6V2o
- You Make Me Feel Like Dancing by Leo Sayer (rock): https://youtu.be/HhSjwU8gEsI
- Kuai Le by Yo-Yo Ma from Songs of Peace & Joy (instrumental violin): https://youtu.be/m9ciLW54_B8
- I’ve Got that Joy, Joy, Joy Down in my Heart (children’s music): https://youtu.be/giPa9kih2so
- Invitacion al Danzon by Yo-Yo Ma from Songs of Peace & Joy (instrumental violin): https://youtu.be/6xt41xBGFx4
- Joy by Bastille (pop): https://youtu.be/miy6aK6btgU
- I Got You (I Feel Good) by James Brown (rock): https://youtu.be/Lrv-Morm-c0
- Joy to the World by Whitney Houston (Christmas carol): https://youtu.be/NHhA-R0netY
- Happy by Pharrell Williams (pop): https://youtu.be/y6Sxv-sUYtM
- Two Kinds of Happiness by Two Strokes (rock): https://youtu.be/6ux2GZ1OF3w
- Night & Day by Baha Men (rock/reggae): https://youtu.be/mXlzHjubkXg
- Mr Blue Sky by Electric Light Orchestra (rock): https://youtu.be/aQUlA8Hcv4s
- Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now by McFadden & Whitehead (rock/disco): https://youtu.be/i2FW1WJc0lg
- Joy by VaShawn Mitchell (Christian): https://youtu.be/Yl5lKSTtPR8
- Joy by Rend Collective (Christian): https://youtu.be/VDiETOLBvxA
- Unspeakable Joy by Chris Tomlin (Christian carol): https://youtu.be/tC3SwhJsLqU
- If You Wanna Be Happy by Jimmy Soul (rock): https://youtu.be/Qh9ZZgDqzAg
Joy Unspeakable — Barbara Holmes
erupts when you least expect it,
when the burden is greatest,
when the hope is gone
after bullets fly.
on the crest of impossibility,
it sways to the rhythm
of steadfast hearts,
what we cannot see.
For Joy – Jan Richardson
You can prepare
but still it will come to you
crossing through your doorway
calling your name in greeting
turning like a child
who quickens suddenly within you
it will astonish you
how wide your heart
will open in welcome
for the joy that finds you
so ready and still
ARTICLES & VIDEOS about CULTIVATING JOY:
- Sparking Joy: Mindfulness Practice from Mindful:https://www.mindful.org/sparking-joy-a-mindfulness-practice-for-everyday/
How to Find Joy Today, and Every Day from Oprah Daily: https://www.oprahdaily.com/life/health/a32957825/how-to-find-joy/
- How To Find Joy in your Everyday Life by Prevention: https://www.prevention.com/health/mental-health/g33002023/how-to-find-joy/
- Finding Your Joy by Psychology Today: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/mindful-anger/202102/finding-your-joy
- Forget Happiness, Pursue Joy by Goop:https://goop.com/wellness/mindfulness/forget-happiness-pursue-joy/
- Finding Joy During Difficult Times by HelpGuide: https://www.helpguide.org/articles/healthy-living/finding-joy-during-difficult-times.htm
- How to Find Joy in Life During Difficult Times from Lifehack: https://www.lifehack.org/886752/finding-joy-in-life
- Nourishing Joy and Happiness teaching video from Thich Nhat Hanh: https://youtu.be/_KsQsmzm-ys
- Smile / Release teaching video from Thich Nhat Hanh: https://youtu.be/t3RkhdU9Thc
JOY — Maurine Smith
Joy, joy, run over me,
Like water running over a shining stone;
And I beneath your sweet shall be
No longer hungry and alone.
The light at my heart’s gate is lit—
My love, my love, is tending it!
Joy Unspeakable — Barbara Holmes
is not silent,
it moans, hums, and bends
to the rhythm of a dancing universe.
It is a fractal of transcendent hope,
a hologram of God’s heart,
a black hole of unknowing.
For our free African ancestors,
joy unspeakable is drum talk
that invites the spirits
to dance with us,
and tell tall tales by the fire.
For the desert Mothers and Fathers,
joy unspeakable is respite
from the maddening crowds,
And freedom from
“church” as usual.
For enslaved Africans during the
joy unspeakable is the surprise
of living one more day,
and the freeing embrace of death
chosen and imposed.
For Africans in bondage
in the Americas,
joy unspeakable is that moment of
when God tiptoes into the hush arbor,
testifies about Divine suffering,
and whispers in our ears,
I taught you how to fly
on a wing and a prayer,
when you’re ready
Joy Unspeakable is humming
“how I got over”
after swimming safely
to the other shore of a swollen Ohio river
when you know that you can’t swim.
It is the blessed assurance
that Canada is far,
but not that far.
For Africana members of the
“invisible institution,” the
emerging black church,
joy unspeakable is
while chains still chafe,
while Jim Crow stalks,
trusting God’s healing
and home remedies,
and cow patty tea.
For the tap dancing, boogie woogie,
who also hear God,
joy unspeakable is
that space/time/joy continuum thing
that dares us to play and pray
in the interstices of life,
it is the belief that the phrase
“the art of living”
means exactly what it says.
both FIRE AND CLOUD,
the unlikely merger of
trance and high tech lives
ecstatic songs and a jazz repertoire
Joy unspeakable is
a symphony of incongruities
of faces aglow and hearts
and the wonder of surviving together.
8 PILLARS of JOY
(summarized from the Book of Joy)
Full article: https://www.beliefnet.com/inspiration/the-eight-pillars-of-joy.aspx
… 4 are qualities of the spirit, and 4 are qualities of the heart.
“For every event in life,” says the Dali Lama, “there are many different angles.” There is, perhaps, no greater route to joy than this. Taking a “God’s-eye perspective,” as Archbishop Tutu says, allows for the birth of empathy—the trait that creates joy not only in the one, but in the many. Empathy opens the door to togetherness, and keeps us from building walls around our individual selves—walls that keep out so many potential friends and allies. Realizing and accepting the validity of different perspectives turns “I” in to “we”...
… to be able to truly appreciate the people around them as equals. When we foster humility within ourselves, we find it easier to be open to the opinions of others, and to realize our own limitations. Without being open in this way, learning and growth stop—both of which are components of a happy life …
… the special ability to laugh, not only at life’s troubles, but at themselves and their very human foibles. … Humor that does not mock or belittle brings us closer together, and can diffuse tense situations. Humor shows us our shared ridiculousness … our common humanity … studies on humor are beginning to show that laughter boosts the immune system, relaxes the body, and protects the heart by lowering stress hormones which cause destructive inflammation.
… the ability to accept our life in all its pain, imperfection, and beauty … It is not resignation. It is not defeat. It is accepting that we must necessarily pass through the storm. It is facing suffering and asking the question, “How can we use this as something positive?” Acceptance allows us to engage life on its own terms rather than wishing, in vain, that things were different. It enables us to change and adapt, rather than becoming mired in denial, despair, and anxiety.
Holding on to grievances is our way of wishing the past could be different. When we hang on to those negative emotions, that anger and grief and the desire for vengeance, we only hurt ourselves. And if we use those emotions to strike back and cause harm, we only invite a cycle of retribution… Forgiveness does not mean that we forget… Justice should still be sought, and the perpetrator, punished. Justice can be served without anger, without hatred, and once it is served, we must let go. Until we forgive a person that has wronged us, we allow that person to hold power over us—they effectively control our emotions.
Gratitude … is the recognition of all that holds us in the web of life and all that has made it possible to have the life that we have and the moment that we are experiencing. It allows us to shift our focus from what we lack to what we have. If acceptance is not fighting reality, gratitude means embracing it, counting blessings rather than burdens… Gratitude also connects us to others. When we are truly grateful, we remember all of those who help make our happiness possible, who bring goodness into our lives. We, then, are able to recognize those people, and enjoy them and their differences.
Compassion is a sense of concern that arises when we see others suffer, and wish to see that suffering relieved. It is the bridge between empathy and kindness. A large part of being compassionate is realizing our shared humanity. … when we think of alleviating other people’s suffering, our own suffering is reduced. … Compassion should be extended to the self, as well.
Giving to others does not truly subtract from ourselves, but adds to us. … money can buy happiness, if we spend it on other people. People who give experience greater long-term life satisfaction, whether that giving is large or small… Strive to attain a generous spirit, made possible by acknowledging that you are merely a steward of your wealth, possessions, and power …
Candle of Joy —Maren Tirabassi
This old woman who cannot see well
has smeared pink lipstick
around her lips
to dress up for church.
A child, sixteen months or so,
too young to be greedy yet,
hugs a large pink balloon.
It doesn’t matter he’s a boy;
it doesn’t matter where
on the spectrum that is gender
he will grow up
to find himself, his joy.
A teenager with magenta hair,
pierced eyebrows, jean jacket over
the tilt of shoulder
which means something like –
love me, don’t love me,
stands nervous, defiant,
in the chancel
puts flame to the pink candle.
There are many more cosmic
to this season of Advent.
Through the centuries
volumes of theology
have been written
on the doctrine of Incarnation …
but always the joy is particular.
I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy. – Tagore
We are fragile creatures, and it is from this weakness, not despite it,
that we discover the possibility of true joy.― Desmond Tutu, The Book of Joy
The beating heart of the universe is holy joy. — Martin Buber
We have God’s joy in our blood. — Frederick Buechner
To get the full value of joy you must have someone to divide it with. – Mark Twain
The three factors that seem to have the greatest influence on increasing our happiness are our ability to reframe our situation more positively, our ability to experience gratitude, and our choice to be kind and generous. — Dalai Lama
When you are grateful, you are not fearful, and when you are not fearful, you are not violent. When you are grateful, you act out of a sense of enough and not out of a sense of scarcity, and you are willing to share. If you are grateful, you are enjoying the differences between people and respectful to all people. The grateful world is a world of joyful people. Grateful people are joyful people. A grateful world is a happy world. — Brother Steindl-Rast
What is Joy?… While happiness is temporary and is based upon happenings, joy is from the Lord and you can still experience joy during trials, suffering, and testing. Joy is permanent but happiness is fleeting. —Jack Wellman, Patheos.org
From joy I came,
For joy I live,
and in Thy sacred joy
I shall melt again.
— Paramahamsa Yogananda
STRUGGLES, SUFFERING & JOY: Sometimes It’s Hard to Access Joy
Discovering more joy does not, I’m sorry to say, save us from the inevitability of hardship and heartbreak. In fact, we may cry more easily, but we will laugh more easily, too. Perhaps we are just more alive. Yet as we discover more joy, we can face suffering in a way that ennobles rather than embitters. We have hardship without becoming hard. We have heartbreak without being broken. — Archbishop Desmond Tutu
People often confuse joy with happiness, but they are not interchangeable. Joy is from within, regardless of what is going on around you. Happiness can be a blurred emotion, dependent on a situation. Joyful people make a commitment to gratitude regardless of the circumstances. In Greek, the word for joy is ‘chara.’ This describes a feeling of inner gladness, delight or rejoicing. This inner gladness leads to a cheerful heart and a cheerful heart leads to cheerful behavior. The most important attribute of joy is that you can find joy in adversity. — Kelly Wise Valdes
Part of the problem with the word ‘disabilities’ is that it immediately suggests an inability to see or hear or walk or do other things that many of us take for granted. But what of people who can’t feel? Or talk about their feelings? Or manage their feelings in constructive ways? What of people who aren’t able to form close and strong relationships? And people who cannot find fulfillment in their lives, or those who have lost hope, who live in disappointment and bitterness and find in life no joy, no love? These, it seems to me, are the real disabilities. — Fred Rogers
We create most of our suffering, so it should be logical that we also have the ability to create more joy. It simply depends on the attitudes, the perspectives, and the reactions we bring to situations and to our relationships with other people. When it comes to personal happiness there is a lot that we as individuals can do. — Dalai Lama
The Third Sunday of Advent is … the day to light the pink candle. It is not without reason that this Sunday is called Gaudete Sunday, a Sunday when the readings, the music, the church decorations, and even the pink candle are supposed to be gaudy. It’s supposed to be a party, a day of joy … If only we could.Are we even allowed to light the pink candle and be gaudy … when we have endured…accounts of violence worldwide… horrors … immediately … politicized… We are not joyful. We are not even pretending to be. We have had enough … But what do we say—indeed, what can we say? …
…. Does John give the … sermon … that God weeps with the wretched of the earth but really has nothing better to do than to cry with you as you are terrorized? In the midst of such colonization, terror, and violence, John’s answer is a call to radical hospitality … John says, we open our doors wider.
These acts of joy run counter to our feelings of horror, despair, anger, and rage … He is coming, John says, but as we look forward to his return, he isn’t back yet. So yes, we should grieve at this present darkness. … Yes, we should have no words to say to explain the horror. Yes, do be angry, rage at the senselessness. But as the people of God, in our sorrow and in our anger, in our disbelief at the level of injustice … we also defy … we declare with our actions that this is indeed a time to act, but with the radical acts of hospitality, to let our rejoicing not be empty words, but shocking deeds of expansive welcome to the stranger, solidarity with the hungry and the naked … we rejoice defiantly by flinging open our hearts and our doors to welcome the stranger and love our neighbour. — Chinglican at Table