A Winter Blessing

National Geographic

National Geographic

A Winter Blessing
Joyce Rupp & Macrina Wiederkehr

Blessed are you, winter,
dark season of waiting,
you affirm the dark seasons of our lives,
forecasting the weather of waiting in hope.

Blessed are you, winter,
you faithfully guard a life unseen,
calling those who listen deeply
to discover winter rest.

Blessed are you, winter,
frozen and cold on the outside,
within your silent, nurturing womb
you warmly welcome all that longs for renewal.

Blessed are you, winter,
your bleak, barren trees
preach wordless sermons
about emptiness and solitude.

Blessed are you, winter,
you teach us valuable lessons
about waiting in darkness
with hope and trust.

Blessed are you, winter,
season of blood red sunsets
and star-filled, long, dark nights,
faithfully you pour out your beauty.

Blessed are you, winter,
when your tiny snowflakes
flurry through the air,
you awaken our sleeping souls.

Blessed are you, winter,
with your wild and varied moods,
so intent on being yourself,
you refuse to be a people-pleaser.

Blessed are you, winter,
when ice storms crush our hearts and homes,
you call forth the good in us
as we rush to help one another.

Blessed are you, winter,
your inconsistent moods
often herald spring’s arrival,
yet how gracefully you step aside
when her time has come.

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Thursday Re-View — Chrysalis

My soul sighs as it waits in the darkness.
No light, no sound. Simply being.

What is this waiting?

I inched along, plodding through my life,
minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day.

Joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain,
hope and despair, darkness and light.

Then, I chose the darkness
as I spun my cocoon, my chrysalis, my womb.

What is this waiting?

It’s the in-between time, between where I was
and where I will be, between my past and my future.

My soul sighs as I trust in the darkness, in the patient hope
that I will emerge from this cocoon stronger, smarter, better.

That I will no longer plod along minute by minute,
hour by hour, day by day, but that I will fly.

That I will soar toward the heavens each moment I take a breath,
toward my destiny that was written before I was born.

I will see more clearly, live more authentically, love more fruitfully.

I lived, I died, and I will become again.
I will not pass through this transformation unaware.

I will touch and love and hope and be present,
and alight upon the shoulders of giants.

I will look to those brief rainbow moments that shine
when the sun comes out after the rain.

I will live, and be mindful of all that is.
I choose to be born anew, and I relish this freedom.

What is this waiting?

It is a gestation, a creating, a longing,
a whispered promise.

My soul sighs as it waits in the darkness.

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Theresa’s Peace Accord

 I have an idea.

It has to do with blessings of the holiday season.  Strength in numbers.  And the power of the blogging world as a force of nature.

It goes something like this.

I now have 1,240 followers.

1,240 people who actually have agreed to see an e-mail from me every day in what must be already overloaded e-mail accounts.

With views from over 120 different countries. Amazing!

I am grateful, to say the least.

When I first started this blog, I had to take a time-out from work because of health issues, and I wanted to reach out to people from my home, since I was no longer doing it in an office.

My goal was simple – to inspire people, to offer hope, to let them know that they were not alone. To give them the chance to get to know some extraordinary people I’ve met along the way, either through my work, my volunteering, my reading, or my travels. To share a daily quotation that at some point in my life may have spoken to me for a brief moment.

Or comforted me. Or inspired. Or challenged. Or teased. Or humbled.

And guess what? I was inspired.

I don’t know if I achieved my goal for others, but I was certainly inspired by those I’ve met in the blogging world. And the blogging world is simply a microcosm of the real world.

Where else can I speak to or read about or cry with people from other countries and other cultures without ever having met them?

Where else can I view photos (and very, very good ones, at that!) of hills and meadows, festivals and country markets, colorful flowers and exotic animals, mountain peaks and crashing oceans?

Where else can I read about feeding hyenas in Ethiopia or visit a fashion house in Paris or a tiny market on the streets of Pakistan?

Or see the purple flowers against the gray stone of a chapel in Ireland or experience the Northern Lights in Norway or read about the politics of Croatia or the struggle for freedom in Egypt as they happen?

Or get tips on how to take care of elderly pets or teach a cat how to walk on a leash or get a recipe for soup from Singapore or discuss photography with a retiree in Hong Kong or take notes on the latest fashion from a teen-aged Latvian boy?

cat

I’ve offered prayers to people struggling with cancer, sobriety, paralysis, depression and all kinds of loss; exchanged hopeful thoughts in the quiet early morning hours when sleep was elusive; read poetry by young adults in India, Spain and Romania (thank goodness for Google Translate!) who feel the same things as the rest of us, no matter our age or geographic location; read about different faith traditions practiced in so many parts of the world; and shared my own thoughts about people, with people and for people across the globe.

Ask me about how Mumbai’s skyline glitters at night or how the mountains surrounding Islamabad look draped in mist or how the colors of a New Zealand autumn blaze and pop or how the light falls in sacred shadows across an abandoned church in Scotland or how it looks to skydive over Palm Island in Dubai, UAE or how vividly green the terrace farming is in Yemen or how the architecture sings at night in Barcelona.

Or how cheetah hunt or elephants grieve or eagles mate or dolphins swim or butterflies migrate.

Or how people the world over hate war, how they cry for the same reasons, laugh at silly jokes, help those in need, share food and water when they have little, offer hope when others have none, speak volumes without words in their photographs, allow us to visit inside their homes and hearts, show us their children and plans for the future.

We are different; we are the same.

We share stories; we share ourselves.

We reach out; we touch hearts and hands.

We speak in different languages; we speak the same.

We harbor faith not confined by religion.

We believe and we dream.

We inspire and we offer hope.

We are present and never alone.

We are connected.

We are One.

We shall bring peace.

Hands

So, in celebration, I would like to propose “The 1,240 Peace Accord.”

A grass roots movement that starts with the 1,240 loyal followers of this humble blog, Soul Gatherings.

We’ve already shown that we have more in common than different.

We agree – we disagree – – we communicate – we listen – we share – we learn – we care.

Let all of us decide the fate of World Peace.

One person – one post – one follower – one blog – at a time.

We can do this. I can feel it. I can hear our voices, united.

The 1,240 Peace Accord.

Are you in?

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Thursday Re-View — I’m Wearing Down to the Real

[Quotes from “The Velveteen Rabbit” by Margery Williams]

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Some days, getting older is a real drag (literally and figuratively)…the graying hair, the middle-aged spread, the skin spots, the forgetfulness, the sense of being either in the way or invisible to the younger generations…

…and on other days, getting older is tempered by the Velveteen Rabbit.

velveteen rabbit I

Let’s face it — I’m wearing down to the Real.

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse.
“It’s a thing that happens to you..
When a child loves you for a long, long time,
not just to play with, but REALLY loves you,
then you become Real…It doesn’t happen all at once.
You become. It takes a long time.”

It has taken a long time, but sometimes it feels like overnight. Wasn’t it just a short time ago that I graduated from college, then optometry school? Set up my practice, got married, became a mother? In fact, when did I become my mother when I look in a mirror? (See: When Did I Start to Look Like My Mother?)

I’m wearing down to the Real.

“Generally, by the time you are Real,
most of you hair has been loved off,
and your eyes drop out
and you get loose in the joints
and very shabby.
But these things don’t matter at all,
because once you are Real,
you can’t be ugly except to people
who don’t understand.”

My hair is getting gray at the roots, my eyes haven’t dropped out but night-time driving in the rain is risky, and there’s a certain delayed reaction with certain joints — I get up but my body lags behind my head. If my joints aren’t cracking, they’re stiff.

But I’m wearing down to the Real.

Only authentic goods here.

My heart is bigger, my insight deeper, my tolerance wider, my amusement heartier, as I get worn down to a well-loved vehicle. And I hate to admit it, but I even have some shabby – or is it flabby – matronly moments, too.

“When you are Real, shabbiness doesn’t matter.”

But it’s taken me a long time to get to the Real Theresa…the reason-for-being, meaning and purpose in life, I can die and will have made a small positive difference Theresa who is comfortable in her own wearing out skin.

And that’s a good thing, because in wearing down to the Real,

“Once you are Real, you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.”

I’m wearing down to the Real.

I’m steeped in readiness.

And I am blessed, indeed.

velveteen rabbit

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Endings

There seem to be more endings than new beginnings as I get older. And one starts to wonder just how many endings can continue until there’s nothing left.

This train of thought started with a Facebook post by my ex-husband, notifying his world that our house was finally sold. Finally. Good news about not having to carry two mortgages anymore in today’s difficult economy.

But this was the house that we built 27 years ago, after years of scouring house plans for just the right one. The custom-built house that we watched become a home from the ground up…the footers being poured, the walls being erected, the sheet rock hung, the roof laid, the rooms painted. We went there every night after work to check on the progress, showing Alex, at one and a half, his future home.

Everything happened there – a marriage, raising a son, bringing in 2 cats (Peanut and Freddie) and a dog (Misty), birthday parties, Easter celebrations, Christmas dinners. Alex’s Communion and Confirmation, his driver’s license, his high school and college graduations. And our divorce.

So many memories, so many years, so much laughter and so many tears. The house breathes them. Inhale peace, exhale hostility. Inhale love, exhale animosity. Inhale hope, exhale despair.

I hope that a family bought the house, and that their dreams are fulfilled within its sanctuary. I hope the walls ring with their joy and laughter, and that the years bring them all that they deserve, and more.

For it is a good house, with good bones, with a heart that has known love. Just blow the dust of the years away and bring in the fresh air of hope and new beginnings.

For this is sacred ground. A family lived here, loved here, lost here.

And may a new family be found here.

How many endings until there’s nothing left?

I hope only for the balance of a new beginning.
house

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