Advent Daily Devotion: Day 16 – Mon, Dec 14

Joy relies on the connection between body, mind and spirit (heart). One simple practice is to smile. Develop the habit just as you learn how to breathe more deeply or train for athletic pursuits.
            When we use our facial muscles, our brains cue the body with the chemistry of the emotion we’re expressing. Smile. It helps your body relax and experience joy.
            And while joy may begin inside us, we also share it. It affects other people. From behind our masks, a smile crinkles the eyes. From the other end of a phone or video chat, a smile changes the tone of voice. It alters body language. It eases tension and lightens a stressful environment.
            Your smile shines a light inside you. It also lights up your corner of the world.
            In fact, you don’t need another person around to smile. Smiling is beneficial in all times. Exercising those smile muscles is an excellent form of self-care, as well as a wonderful gift for others. — Rev Gail

You show me the path of life. In your presence there is fullness of joy; in your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11

While this practice helps me appreciate the power of smiling for diffusing stress … smiling when things get tough can be a challenge. Doing so, however, helps me move beyond the labeling of events as good or bad to a spiritual reality that enriches my experience of life. — Ruth Wilson

House of JoyRumi

If you knew yourself for even one moment,
if you could just glimpse
your most beautiful face,
maybe you wouldn’t slumber so deeply
in that house of clay.
Why not move into your house of joy
and shine into every crevice!
For you are the secret
Treasure-bearer, and always have been.
Didn’t you know?

WEEK of JOY – Daily Advent Devotional – Day 15

Link to this week’s Advent devotional: joy.


Sun, Dec 13 – DAY 15

Joy becomes the focus of our candle-lighting this week. How does the light of joy shine in your life?

            One question we often ask is the distinction between joy and happiness. Happiness is often described as an emotional state of being that depends on external and goal-oriented circumstances to find fulfillment: it is defined by outward connections, accomplishments, and experiences. Joy, on the other hand, arises from an internal and spiritual wellspring. Happiness might be considered the arrival at a desired destination, while joy can take place at any time, by savoring the journey along the way, regardless of what’s happening.

            So what spiritual practices support joy? As we have reflected in the past, find a way to re-frame a day through gratitude and appreciation is an excellent starting point. Advent is a wonderful time to explore this question and find resources that can build this capacity within you.
 Rev Gail

I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. John 15:11

When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy. Rumi

… joy came from deeply held spiritual beliefs but it also came from a place even beyond that. Joy comes when you make peace with who you are, where you are, why you are, and who you are not with. When you need nothing more than your truth and the love of a good God to bring peace … — Sandra Brown

Sat, Nov 28 Gratitude Reflection

Pay attention to darkness. What are the gifts that darkness brings to you?

Shade provides respite from glaring light or extreme heat. Night permits sleep and rejuvenation. Shadows reveal depth.

Darkness is, in some ways, the absence of light and color. In other ways, it is the blending of many hues to create a deeper, richer palette. Darkness may be identified as the fecundity of the womb and the slow nurturing of the dormant earth in winter. Darkness is the home of starlight, the natural element through which all light moves.

What form of darkness feels significant today? The cozy dark of a beloved corner where you can tuck up and retreat? The vaulting depths of a night sky? The eternal emptiness of the unlit ocean? The secret darkness of a hiding place where a treasure might await you?

In our faith tradition, darkness is that fertile state of being, across with the Spirit moved, originating the creative dynamics that resulted in genesis. Life sprang out of darkness.

Give thanks for darkness. . — Rev Gail

He reveals deep and hidden things;
    he knows what is in the darkness,
    and light dwells with him. —    Daniel 2:22

Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness.
It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.
— Mary Oliver

You must have shadow and light source both.
Listen, and lay your head under the tree of awe.
— Rumi

Sat, Nov 21 Gratitude Reflection

Appreciate what rises. What goes up. What climbs.

The sun breaks over the horizon as it starts the day. People, in their efforts to achieve things, often rise. Sometimes the ascent is its own journey, sometimes it’s the path that leads to a goal or destination.

Sap rises. Birds and plans take off, balloons go aloft: they all rise. New life pushes up through the earth, toward the hope and necessity of sunlight, and rises.

Emotions rise. Expectations rise. Energy rises. Sometimes rising comes as too much of something: overwhelming or out-of-control.

Implicit in rising is the idea that things will soar. That you are making progress. Summiting. Reaching for a climax. Overcoming some obstacle or challenge.

Within the idea of the rising is also its corollary. What rises will also descend. Will settle down. Find a lower point or landing place again. Root itself in calm.

For now, let us give thanks for what rises, and all the promises and possibilities in that movement. — Rev Gail

Rise up, walk through the length and the breadth of the land, for I will give it to you. — Genesis 13:18

You shall put these words of mine in your heart and soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and fix them as an emblem on your forehead. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. — Deuteronomy 11:18-19

Rise up, O Lord; O God, lift up your hand; do not forget the oppressed. Psalm 10:12

We rise by lifting others. Robert Ingersoll

You’ve seen my descent. Now watch my rising! — Rumi

Sat, Nov 14 Gratitude Reflection

Give thanks for food. For sustenance.

Consider how each element of a meal arrives on your plate. Trace its possible origin: sea or forest, field or garden, farm or stream. Imagine how it was caught, grown, hunted, raised or harvested. Track how nearby or far away its beginnings, then the means by which it was packaged and transported, whether a few miles, state-widths and ocean-lengths. What person selected it for your plate? How was it then prepared for eating?

Consider the earth that offered up its nourishment to feed you, and the many hands that brought it to your table. Take note of those who have fewer choices about their meals, and worry about what they’ll eat at the next meal, or how they’ll feed their family. Appreciate the way your body is sustained by the food you notice today. The jobs that are maintained by your choices, the environmental justice implied in your selections.

Of course, in our faith, Love itself becomes food. Offers spiritual nourishment. In many cultures, the preparation of food, the offering of hospitality, and the consumption of a meal are all sacred rituals.

Give thanks for food. — Rev Gail

…  who gives food to all flesh,
    for his steadfast love endures forever.
O give thanks to the God of heaven,
    for his steadfast love endures forever.
—    Psalm 136: 25-26

Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving;
    make melody to our God on the lyre.
He covers the heavens with clouds,
    prepares rain for the earth,
    makes grass grow on the hills.
He gives to the animals their food,
    and to the young ravens when they cry.
Psalm 147: 7-11

He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way for your great generosity, which will produce thanksgiving to God through us; for the rendering of this ministry not only supplies the needs of the saints but also overflows with many thanksgivings to God.
— 2 Corinthians 9:10-12

When you arise in the morning give thanks for the food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself. — Tecumseh

Wear gratitude like a cloak and it will feed every corner of your life. ― Rumi

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