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God of winter morning,
Of new day born from the waters of night;
A feeble cry from Mother Earth’s horizon,
A murmured moan from lingering stars;
Infant soft, blue-veined is your child, Dawn.
Into the waiting arms of Your people
You gift this newness to us…

O God, help us to look with awe-laden eyes,
Let us hear with soft-edged hearts the first cries
of the New Year, of a new day,
that we may come running as if life,
fragile and tear-stained,
awaits us.

O Creator, lover of life,
What child has been born as Day this hour?
Stretched across heaven and earth,
Arms wide open
Waiting for us to return the embrace –
To count fingers and toes of light and rivers,
bird and flower,
woman, man, and child.
Straining to hear a whispered word –
A song of peace,
A hymn of promise,
A lullaby of justice.

God who was, now is, and will still be,
Show us the way of newness –
conceived by Your desire,
born of Your Love’s labor,
made visible,
embraceable.

O Lord,
In this now toddling year,
we move, outstretched in hope, toward You.

Amen

– Pamela Hawkins, A Prayer: For the Birth of a New Year

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It takes grace in our time to keep our minds open to wonder, to be ready for the tug from God, the push from the Spirit, and the revelation of deep things from the hearts of ordinary people. It takes grace, but it is a great gift.

– Lewis B. Smedes

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A Long Winter’s Nap

Some years, the holidays seem to bustle right past, and you’re hurled into the new year — flung onward by the gravity of time — before you know it. There are also years, and this is one, when darkness seems to pile up in drifts as the nights grow longer and the day goes down into its burrow earlier and earlier.

Even at its highest, the sun reclines low along the horizon — resting on its elbow, so to speak — and you can feel the coming of dusk as soon as the day slips past noon. This season, Christmas is the pivot of time, when the sun comes to its solstice and we come, too, to a place where our hearts can rest.

What should we feel today on this new morning?

That is the question Christmas always poses. But our feelings know no “should.” We feel what we feel, as one after another the Christmases go past. Over the years, it adds up to a medley of all our emotions, joy, gratitude, compassion, generosity, love, hospitality — and sometimes also loneliness, mistrust, miserliness and even despair.

This is the season for rejoicing at the hope of our own redemption, and yet rejoicing doesn’t always arrive on schedule, any more than hope or redemption do. The fact is that we make what we can of Christmas each year, and some years Christmas makes something entirely unexpected out of us.

Breakfast will come late this morning because we were up, most of us, late into the eve of this holiday, savoring how festive the darkness can be. And before breakfast is long over and the first toy has been broken, the first tears dried, dusk will be gathering outside again. That is the unfailing gift of this season — to comfort us with so much nightfall, to gather us together, and hold us close.

—New York Times Editorial Published: December 24, 2009. A version of this article also appeared in print on December 25, 2009, on page A30 of the New York edition.

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“Tagore says: ‘When the string of the violin was being tuned, it felt the pain of being stretched, but once it was tuned, then it knew why it was stretched’. So it is with the human soul. While the soul goes through pain, torture and trouble, it thinks that it would have been much better if it had gone through life without it. But once it reaches the culmination of it, then, when it looks back, it begins to realize why all this was meant: it was only meant to tune the soul to a certain pitch.”

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Be a lamp, or a lifeboat, or a ladder.
Help someone’s soul heal.
Walk out of your house like a shepherd.

– Rumi

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Lord of my heart, give me vision to inspire me, that working or resting, I may always think of you.
Lord of my heart, give me light to guide me, that at home or abroad, I may always walk in your way.
Lord of my heart, give me wisdom to direct me, that thinking or acting, I may always discern right from wrong.
Lord of my heart, give me courage to strengthen me, that amongst friends or enemies, I may always proclaim your justice.
Lord of my heart, give me trust to console me, that hungry or well-fed, I may always rely on your mercy.
Heart of my own heart, whatever may befall me, rule over my thoughts and feelings, my words and actions.
Amen.

– from the Black Book of Camarthan – Ancient Welsh

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It really only takes one known star to find your way.

But we have constellations of stars

Billions and billions

Wheeling in a celestial dance

Circling the one star at true north,

Each guiding us in it’s own way.

Similarly we have been provided with a great cloud of witnesses.

Each testifying in his or her own way,

And each helping us to find our path in life.

And walk a little closer to the one true life.

God said ‘See, I am doing a New Thing.’

And so it has come to pass.

Merry Christmas!

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GOD IS COMING! God is coming!
All the element we swim in, this
existence,
Echoes ahead the advent. God is coming! Can’t you feel it?

– Walter Wangerin, Jr., from “The Signs of the Times,” in The Manger Is Empty

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THE HOUSE WITH THE BROKEN DOOR

You decided against the same old thing
You turned right, instead of your usual left

And you saw a brightly lit house
Its door hanging open
A broken door – Askew, Unworkable.
Like it was no longer something that people closed
From inside the voices came
Laughing, singing, and debating

Smells rolled down to you too
Fresh-baked bread
Apple pie
Roast chicken
New wine

A smiling face appeared at the door
And a friendly body hurried down to take your arm
“Oh!” “You’re Here!” “We were so hoping you’d come today!”
And they were all there
Old friends and new
Their names and faces filled with joy
Filling you with joy
Hugging and kissing
Slapping your back
Welcoming you in

Silly, Silly, So Foolish
How long you walked that lonely road
The house had been waiting for you
The friends had been waiting for you
But no matter
The time was paid for
And the time is at hand for you to be honored

“But I did nothing!” you said…
“I went the wrong way!”
“I did the wrong things, again and again!”

No matter, no matter
On your way you did much good,
More than you could have known
And your mistakes,

See!

They have all been redeemed-
Turned about like an engine at a roundhouse
Like a lump of clay on a wheel
Like the sun breaking through the rain
Like a starfish regrowing its arms

The journey is over
And you are home
What was forgotten has been recalled
What was stolen has been restored
What was lost has been found

There was always room for you here
You were always wanted and needed
Always wanted at our table
Always present in our prayers
If it was not so, would we not have told you?
Welcome Back!
Welcome Back Home.

– posted at Signs, Dreams and Visions

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“No long, distant pilgrimages are needed, are they, Holiness of our hearts? For you are in our midst, in the people, in the places, in the sounds and silence of our lives. Open our hearts, open our eyes, and quiet us in holy stillness, even as we journey as Advent pilgrims.”

~Thom Shuman