January 2021 (Vol. XXXIV, No. 1)

Dear Friends ~ Fire. It has been lighting my imagination. In bitter January the warmth and glow of fire sings of comfort and hope in the darkness. Yet as wildfires burned through the wilds of Australia and the hills of California this summer, it was fire's power to destroy that captured me. This led me to ancient stories in which fire consumes the world, only to have life return from a tendril in the ashes. Indeed fire appears all over the sacred, mythic universe: it is the possession of gods, the element of miracle, the presence of the Holy Spirit, and the oldest thing there is, burning beneath the stew that contains the seeds which sustain life. In this time of upheaval and turmoil, of climate collapse and pandemic, it is fire's mysterious alchemical ability to transform anything and everything that illumines the possibility of regeneration and grace.

Fire is an intimate force

Fire is an intimate force. Whereas light is very heartening, it remains quite superficial. It touches only the surface of things. ...Fire, on the other hand, has the power to penetrate to the very essence of substance. Fire can go to the heart of the matter.

~ John O'Donohue in FOUR ELEMENTS: REFLECTIONS ON NATURE

Birds of fire

We are the stars which sing,
We sing with your light;
We are the birds of fire,
We fly across the heavens,
Our light is a star which sings.
~ North American Algonquian Song, quoted in SNOWY EARTH COMES GLIDING by Evelyn Eaton

A time of fire

There may be no way to completely avoid the fires erupting all around us, but the human psyche is ancient and immediate and therefore uniquely resilient...The inner alchemy of the soul intends to turn the heat of all that fumes and burns into the light of illumination.
~ Michael Meade in "A Time of Fire" essay

The flame of love

Winter: quieting time to rest in the warmth of our heart's hearth... we enter another new year, another new beginning to awaken ever more fully to Divine Love at work in and through us. Each one of us is in need of true inspiration ... to have the indwelling fire reignited so that we can live with enthusiasm: a passion for Life, purpose, and joy. FIRE: the Flame of Love that inspires the aspirations of our hearts!
~ Nan Merrill

Creative power within the light

To the east comes the deep red light,
Triumph rising with the sun,
Full with the miracle of life,
Creative power within the light,
Daily renewal.
Sacred hoop, sacred life, let us greet you,
Heal our wounds, make us new.
~ Wendy Crockett in SWEETWATER WISDOM

Luminous from within

Throughout my life, by means of my life,
the world has little by little caught fire in my sight,
until a flame all around me,
it has become almost luminous from within.
Such has been my experience in contact with the Earth.
The diaphany of the divine at the heart of the universe on fire.
~ Teilhard de Chardin from THE HEART OF THE MATTER

My heart soars

The beauty of the trees,
the softness of the air,
the fragrance of the grass,
speaks to me...
The strength of fire,
the freshness of morning,
the taste of salmon,
the trail of the sun,
and the life that never goes away,
they speak to me.
And my heart soars.
~ Chief Dan George

That which no longer works in a changed world

I take my guidance from the forests, who teach us something about change. The forces of creation and destruction are so tightly linked that sometimes we can't tell where one begins and the other leaves off. A long-lived overstory can dominate the forest for generations... But... something always happens that is more powerful than that overstory... A whole new ecosystem rises to replace that which no longer works in a changed world...

~ Robin Wall Kimmerer, from her new introduction to the special edition of BRAIDING SWEETGRASS

Someone has written something new

Sometimes with
the bones of the black
sticks left when the fire
has gone out

someone has written
something new
in the ashes of your life.
~ David Whyte in "The Journey" from THE HOUSE OF BELONGING

A hearth for sacred fire

Remember, remember the great life of the sun
breathing on the earth
it lies upon the earth
to bring out life upon the earth
life covering the earth.

Remember, remember the sacredness of things
running streams and dwellings
the young within the nest
a hearth for sacred fire
the holy flame of fire.

~ Pawnee/Osage/Omaha Song in EARTH PRAYERS

December 2020 (Vol. XXXIII, No. 11)

Dear Friends ~ Advent themes swirl in my mind, each an Advent wreath candle: Hope, Faith, Joy, Peace. Regardless of location, languages, ethnicities, or skin tones we humans celebrate these age-old notions in diverse ways. Yet we know their challenging opposites: Hate, Fear, Despair, and Conflict haunt us.

In the Christian Advent story, young, pregnant Mary and her husband travel to fulfill a census requirement. Although angels reassured her, I can’t help but feel Mary’s fear on this long journey, realizing her baby is coming in a strange place, sharing "emergency housing" with barnyard animals. Yet Mary maintains hope. Her joy spreads to shepherds and kings. Mary’s faith proclaims all will be well. Her tiny child comes heralding peace.

Our slowing down this Advent

May our slowing down this Advent be our gentle protest against the violence of our rushing world. May our slowing down give quiet, steady witness to the values of attentiveness, carefulness, patience, receptivity, stillness. May our slowing down enable us to make real and meaningful connections with people, nature, work, art, and (most importantly) with God.
~ Melannie Svoboda, SND in her blog "Sunflower Seeds", November 28, 2016

My peace I give to you

My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

~ John 14:22

Hope is catching and it is loose in the land

Remember it’s time for justice and peace to kiss and truth and kindness to embrace.
Remember it’s time for us to turn and face each other, ourselves, and God again.
Remember it’s time to hasten that day!...

Hope is catching and it is loose in the land, set loose by words and impassioned belief that
God is paying attention to what is going on in history, and that God has plans, as [God]
always has for those ... made to live in peace...
~ Megan McKenna in ADVENT, CHRISTMAS, AND EPIPHANY

Christmas enters

Into this climate of fear and apprehension, Christmas enters,
Streaming lights of joy, ringing bells of hope
And singing carols of forgiveness high up in the bright air...

Hope spreads around the earth, brightening all things,
Even hate, which crouches breeding in dark corridors...

We beckon this good season to wait awhile with us.
We, Baptist and Buddhist, Methodist and Muslim, say come.
Peace.
We, the Jew and the Jainist, the Catholic and the Confucian,
Implore you to stay awhile with us.
~ Maya Angelou, excerpt from "Amazing Peace"

Surely the holy one is not deaf

Surely the holy one is not deaf.
He hears the delicate bells that ring
On the feet of an insect as it walks.
~ Kabir in THE SONGS OF KABIR, translated by Rabindranath Tagore

God loves the lowly

God is so free and so marvelous {doing} wonders where people despair... tak{ing} what is little and lowly and mak{ing} it marvelous. And that is the wonder of all wonders, that God loves the lowly... God marches right in {and} chooses people as... instruments and performs... wonders where one would least expect them.
~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer in GOD IS IN THE MANGER

Every small thing

Jesus came to us as a child so that we might come to understand not only that nothing we do is insignificant, but that every small thing we do has within it the power to change the world.

~ Joan Chittister, OSB in BECOMING FULLY HUMAN

Light a candle

The proper response, as Hanukkah teaches, is not to curse the darkness but to light a candle.
~ Irving Greenberg in THE JEWISH WAY

All that is necessary

All that is necessary
To make this world a better place
To live is to love as
Christ loves, as Buddha loved.
~ Isadora Duncan

Peace is inside all of us

Peace is inside all of us.
We just need to share it.
~ Jacoba Barber-Rozema, age 10

Make all things new

In our secret yearnings
we wait for your coming,
and in our grinding despair
we doubt that you will...

Give us the grace and the impatience
to wait for your coming to the bottom of our toes,
to the edges of our fingertips.
We do not want our several worlds to end.
Come in your power
and come in your weakness
in any case
and make all things new.
~ Walter Brueggemann in AWED TO HEAVEN, ROOTED IN EARTH

Amazing Peace

We shout with glorious tongues the coming of hope...
To celebrate the Promise of Peace.
~ Maya Angelou, excerpt from "Amazing Peace"

Blessings of joy and peace

BLESSINGS of joy and peace! May the Promise of this season find a home in your heart!

~ Nan Merrill, 1992
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