Prayer Book Prayers ~ A New Beauty ~

Lords Prayer

“Please help me to get down under things and find where You are.”  Flannery O’Connor              

I breathed a fresh, new breath the day I started praying the same thing as the people around me, the day I started praying the St. Mary’s school prayer.

I grew up Baptist, a fine denomination.  Baptists do many things well, but one thing Baptists are not accustomed to, is praying prayers from a book. In fact, I have actually heard this practice slightly scorned (sometimes not so slightly) by some preachers over the years ~ “You don’t need a prayer book to tell you how to pray,” and “Just speak to God with your own voice and words, not someone else’s.”

I do pray and praise in my own voice and with my own words almost constantly as I go from here to there, even singing out loud in restaurants and elevators, unashamed, sometimes even unaware.  But my prayer life shifted a bit when I came upon my school’s daily prayer.

For the better.

For one thing, I kneel.  St. Mary’s has Chapel every day, and every day the students and faculty alike have the opportunity to kneel and say the St. Mary’s school prayer at the close of the service. My faith tradition doesn’t include this practice, so for me, kneeling was new, a fresh experience in humility each day, a reminder that I am small, one of many in the universe, not the center of it.  There is Someone bigger, grand and glorious and righteous.

In unison and reverence, we kneel and say our prayer together, to Him.

How He must love this!

And yet my Baptist roots betray me a bit as I ponder a nagging question:  What keeps a prayer (or a song or scripture) from growing stale, from becoming just rote practice that has little or no meaning?  Mere prattle with no substance?

An important question with a surprisingly simple answer.

 Me.  You. 

It’s not the prayer that grows stale ~ it’s the person.  The prayer itself lives.  The words live.  It can become an act of spiritual discipline to consider a prayer with fresh and eager eyes and to say the words each day with anticipation and gratitude.  It’s an act of worship to ponder the phrases as I say them, to slow down and quiet down, to picture the people I am lifting to God in prayer.  This spiritual exercise brings to the prayer the unique concerns of each particular day.

In this way I never say the same prayer twice.

Jesus’ disciples understood the power of a learned prayer because that’s the very model that Christ Himself gave them.

“Pray like this,” He said.

Our Father, which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy Name.
Thy Kingdom come.
Thy will be done in earth,
As it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive them that trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory,

Forever and ever. 

Amen

If oral, memorized prayers were good for the disciples, then I suppose I should consider the spiritual discipline for myself.  Many believers have been praying this way for millennia ~ I simply wasn’t one of them.

Until I encountered the St. Mary’s school prayer, which I have knelt and prayed every school day for the past sixteen years.

Almighty God, Fountain of all wisdom, Be with us, we pray Thee, in our work today,

I kneel and begin to pray with a stalwart declaration that God is Almighty and the source of all the wisdom there is.  I ask Him to be with me, with all of us, as we work and move in the variety of our days and ways.  None of us alike, all of us uniquely made by His loving hands for mighty purposes under Heaven, to do good work.  Not alone, but together, corporate in our need of Him and our love of each other.

Endue all the teachers with a sense of their responsibility, And the grace and strength for its fulfillment.

That’s me.  I am a teacher in this place, and in saying this prayer every day, I pray for myself and my colleagues that we will indeed be filled with the fullness of our responsibility to those in our care ~ our students. As children do with parents, our students study us all day every day, yearning, learning, watching to see how mature adults conduct themselves with integrity and honor.

From us they witness firsthand how important is it to make wise and slow decisions, to control our emotions, and to love deeply and fully.  Why great Literature and Languages and Calculus and History really do matter.

We are the daily caretakers of pliable minds and young hearts.

The enormity of this task, this reality, can overwhelm.  We need the grace and strength for its fulfillment.

It’s a good thing we pray for it every day.

Keep the students in health of mind and soul and body, Make them diligent in their study.  Guard their inexperience and save them from all temptations.

What we pray for here is most, most important. Who needs this prayer today, God? Who most needs health this day?  And a measure of more diligence in her studies?  They are young and inexperienced, and the temptations of the day are great.  Save them, guard them, God!

Today as I kneel, I look around me and pray for those nearest me ~ Martha, Isabelle, Maddie, Haley, Hallie, Miles, Katherine, Caroline ~ God, guard their inexperience and save them from all temptations.

Please.

Bless the patrons and alumnae of this school.

Certainly memory is one of the most lovely of God’s gifts.  When I pray for the patrons and alumnae of my school, I stop, and I remember.

I remember how Mrs. Lacy mentored me and taught me how to teach Dostoevsky.  Her legacy lives each time I open the pages of The Brothers Karamazov and each time a student says, “That’s the most phenomenal book I have ever read.  I cried when I finished reading it.”

God, bless Mrs. Lacy, a patron of this school, this day.

I remember Ashley’s magnificent alumna speech and how she reminded us that the most important thing is to be a blessing to others all the days of our lives.  “L’chi lach.”

God, bless Ashley, an alumna of this school, this day.

I remember the time the girls voted and voted and voted all Spring Break long, alums and current students alike, just to win the regional contest for USA Today’s “Most Unique Mascot” – Go Turkeys! – and when we won, how the entire school broke into a spontaneous joy-parade down Perkins Road in glorious celebration, students Instagraming and alums Skyping in from around the world to join in the jubilation.

God bless the sense of unity of both the old and young of us, this day.

I remember decades of girls at graduation, a day of departure, my loved ones leaving.  My own daughter and her friends, my students, sixty daughters walking down the aisle on graduation day, bedecked in a white gowns and bouquets of spring-pink roses, ready for the world.

God bless all the precious girls who have passed through these hallowed halls, this day.

Moses’ successor Joshua told the wandering Israelites to pick up stones to bring along with them on their journey to the Promised Land to remind them all of His great work in parting the sea so that they could escape Pharoah’s mighty killing-hands.  So they did.  They carried with them stones of remembrance, so that they would never forget.

So this is what I do when I pause and kneel and ask God to “Bless the patrons and alumnae of this school.”  This simple, sweet line is my stone of remembrance.  I pray, I look back, and I remember.

And enable us all, more and more each day, To advance in that knowledge which is eternal life, Through Jesus Christ our Lord. 

Amen.             

I pray, we pray, for the advancement of the knowledge of eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. People grow in faith like they grow in body ~ little by little, day by day.  So each day, I pray that I will grow a bit more in my faith, adding a bit to it rather than losing a bit.  More movement toward hope than toward despair.  Each day.

 

In her book A Prayer Journal, Flannery O’Connor prays that her “traditional prayers” will not grow stale.  Growing up in the Catholic faith, she admits to saying prayers “but not meaning them.”  Isn’t that true of us all, whether we pray learned prayers or not?

I so often say words toward God, but not to Him.

Miss O’Connor and I have had opposite experiences that brought us to the same end ~ she prayed traditional prayers that grew stale, and she was looking for new words and new life in her conversations with God.  I never prayed traditional prayers, but now that I do sometimes, I’m finding divine sparks of life in the fresh words.  We both wanted the same thing ~ to “get down under things and find where [He is].”

I have found a bit more of Him by praying the St. Mary’s school prayer with my community.

I miss it in the summers.

 

Here is a prayer from the Book of Common Prayer, the red book that contains almost all of those learned prayers at my school.

Consider this an offering, a gift for a new year.

If you know this prayer, try praying it actively, slowly, with fresh eyes and thoughts.  If it is new to you, as it is to me, then ponder these words as you say them.

I will try to pray this prayer this year with the anticipation and hope that it will actually be answered.

For the Human Family
O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us through Jesus your Son: Look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in your good time, all nations and races may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

And Amen.

 

 

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Angel Unaware

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“The angels come to visit us, and we only know them when they are gone.”          George Elliot

Some of life’s stories are etched into us, carved in so deeply that when memory is sparked by a scent or a whisper, awe and terror slam together and the senses shudder.  Attempts at retelling overwhelm.

Such is this story for me.

 

“My friends, you do not understand,” Brother Josef began in his quiet sophistication at breakfast the next morning, removing his glasses to wipe moist eyes.  “You were all in terrible peril.  There are so many robberies and injuries of tourists in these difficult days.  Because of the Communists, we are now a very poor people, there is so much stealing, so much hurt,” his voice trailing away toward impossibility.

“It cannot be,” his wife Elizabeth quietly murmured, also dabbing her eyes.  “Your story is an impossible one.”

“Indeed,” Josef claimed quietly.  “Quite impossible.”

 

The train from Budapest to Oradea was packed that hot night, standing room only.  The stationmaster had warned us of over-crowding when we bought our tickets, so we had run maniacally, satchels a’flying, from the café to the train station to board first and vie for seats.  Good fortune preceded us and, finding four seats together, we slammed our bags down to claim them and dropped exhausted.  We shall not be moved became the evening’s mantra.  Husband Larry and me, brother-in-law Spence and wife Brett were traveling to visit the preacher, the near-martyr Josef Tson.  He would meet our train at 11:00 pm; we had spoken with him earlier on the hotel phone. The year was 1991, no cell phones.

The best laid plans. 

Travel was perhaps a bit more adventuresome back then.

Gypsies, tramps, and thieves ~ it seems that everyone wanted to go to Oradea that evening, or on to distant Bucharest, and each found his place on the overstuffed train car, standing, crouching, leaning.   Breathing.  Any fresh, clean air was squeezed out of the cars by the sheer weight and stench of overheated and over-crammed bodies and hot, earthy breath.

With non-stop tickets, the expectation of a 3 ½ hour trip from Hungary to Romania was reasonable.  But the further east the train traveled, the more it stopped unexpectedly ~ tramps trying to jump onboard, cows and a goat on the tracks, passport checks at border crossings ~ not to mention the myriad of stowaways and gypsies on this particular train.  What was most remarkable was how the vagabonds seemed to disappear, nay, vanish, when the train’s ticket-checker appeared.  I’ve never seen anything like it, before or since.

Now you see them, now you don’t.

With the constant stopping, what should have been a 3 ½ hour trip turned into a 6 ½ hour one, putting us into Oradea in the darkest hours of the night.

This fact alone has little meaning unless you’ve been to the train station in Oradea, Romania, in the darkest hours of the night.

Our train sputtered to a rough stop around 2:30 am.

If trains arrive on tracks far removed from the stationhouse, travelers use underground passageways to get to the station, keeping them from having to cross all the tracks.

Our train arrived on the tracks farthest from the stationhouse.

We gathered our bags and disembarked with the rest of the over-weary travelers.  It took a moment to adjust not only to the slight breath of fresh night air that met us, but also the darkness.  It was profoundly dark, compounded by a dense fog that blurred all vision.   No moon and very few lights, the distant lights of the stationhouse cloudy and dim.  Brett noticed that there was plenty lighting fixtures, large and small, ornate and grand even, but no light.  No light bulbs.

Why?

 

Nicolae Ceaușescu, Romania’s last Communist leader, had been killed, along with his wife Elena, by a firing squad, the only violent overthrow of a Communist government to occur during the revolutions.  They were convicted of mass murder of their own people during the Romanian Revolution of 1989.  It was during these years that our host, Josef Tson, had been imprisoned and almost killed for his faith, for refusing to stop preaching during the time of the Communist regime.  Not unlike the Apostle Paul and his companion Silas during their imprisonments, God had provided miraculous protection for Josef during his years in prison, sparing his life more than once.

We had come to Oradea to meet him.

Before his demise, Ceaușescu had ordered the export of much of the country’s industrial and agricultural production, leading to extreme shortages and drastically lowered living standards.  One of the results of this is that the people had begun to steal ~ bread and milk and clothing ~ and light bulbs.

It was profoundly dark this night. And profoundly quiet.

 

Dread may be the weightiest of all things.

Blaise Pascal said, “The eternal silence of these infinite spaces fills me with dread.”  Undoubtedly he was speaking of things more metaphysical than the underpassages of the Oradea train station, but his sentiment resounds nonetheless.  In such a silence, the four of us shouldered our bags and descended into the mute blackness toward the stationhouse, underground.  There was no other choice.

Thicker than the spongy, wet fog that lay on our skin was the fear and dread that each of us carried, heavy, palpable.  You could touch it, taste it.

A weak light at the stationhouse-end of the long tunnel offered a moment’s reprise from our dense, collective tension, but the scratchy sound of a just-lit match brought it right back as a uniformed Romanian soldier suddenly lit his cigarette in the unseen shadows beside us.  We gasped at the sudden intrusion and gasped again at the assault rifle at his side.

Walking, keep walking.  There is one, small, dimly-lit bulb at the end of this tunnel.

Although the citizens of Oradea had not yet stolen all the lights from the train station itself, it seems that most of the citizens of Oradea were actually at the station in the wee hours of the morning.  Not the women and children.  Surely they were at home, warm in their beds.  As were all the nice- and kind-looking men, men who might smile a bit.  The citizens who did congregate at the Oradea station in the middle of the night were a dangerous-looking lot, stairs and landings outside of the station full of people, loitering, smoking, murmuring.  Glaring.  Heavy dark men with equally heavy guns.

No smiles.

Post-revolution Romania.  Ceaușescu dead less than two years.  Brother Josef at home wondering where we were.

No one in the whole world knew where we were.

 

So this is what fear tastes like.

 

The four of us stood in a tight circle outside of the station, around our pile of over-sized luggage.   Larry was the first to break the thick silence with a tight whisper.

“I’m going to go inside and try to exchange some money so that I can use the pay phone to call Josef and let him know we are here.  Wish me luck.”

Luck.  Luck.  Luck.

Alas, we needed something a bit more powerful.  Larry hurried inside while we remained standing in the blackness, back to back around our absurd number of bags, quickly coming to grips with our state of affairs.

We are an attraction.  A wealthy American side-show.

Romanian men with their guns and scratchy voices began to encircle us and slowly inch our way in small steps, but deliberate ones.  It took us just a second to realize ~ we had what they did not, passports and dollars.

Don’t look at them, keep your eyes down, Spence whispered urgently and he was right, but they formed a circle around us anyway, so quickly.  No one spoke and everyone breathed hard.  An unusual quiet, dense and sinister.

Completely surrounding us now, someone brushed Brett’s shoulder.  A new-kind-of fear was upon us, acutely raw, conspicuously dreadful, scratching its way in.

There was nothing to be done.

 

“Ya guys need some help?” he drawled.  I’ve always loved a Boston accent.

Like spectators at a tennis match, we collectively glanced sharply to the left, Americans and Romanians alike.  Pushing through the tight crowd was a good-looking, brown-skinned, curly-haired young man sporting a Harvard sweatshirt and accent to match.

“What ah ya doin’ here at this time of the mornin’?  This is no place for ya.  Where ya supposed to be?” he questioned with a confidence none of us had felt for hours. “Oh, by the way, the name’s Virgil,” he added, hand extended.

Virgil.

“Look, we could use some help,” Spence stumble-started, absentminded to Virgil’s friendly hand. Spence gave a brief recounting of our need ~ late to arrive, no way to contact our host ~ but the problem was obvious.  We were out of place, surrounded by a crowd, desperate and angry.  And we had what they wanted.

Antagonism hard and strong interrupted Spence’s short tete-a-tete with Virgil, as the crowd suddenly surged, bristled forward toward the young man, the newcomer.  Scowling, these men did not appreciate Virgil’s disruption.  They did not know him.

He was not one of them.

“Tell me who ya here to see?” Virgil asked calmly, eye on the crowd.

“We came to visit Josef Tson,” Spence squeaked, Romanian men breathing heavy at his shoulder, now touching his arm.

“You are God people, here to see the God man?”

Yes, I guess we are.

“Give me just a minute,” the sweatshirt said, nodding, turning toward the men.

Facing them, Virgil slowly lifted his long arm to its full length.  In authority’s voice, the power that moves men, Virgil spoke, loud, his words pushing the men a bit in a collective sway, like a wind blowing them back.

A cold hard silence followed, dense, tense.

The epiphany hit hard, my chest aching with the weight of it, aching still at its writing. This was a showdown ~ an Elijah and the prophets of Baal moment.  When Elijah came to his moment, his words sounded like this:  “O God, make it known right now that you are God in Israel, that I am your servant, and that I’m doing what I’m doing under your orders.”

Christ had similar words with His middle-of-the-nighters, more men who had come to harm.  Another showdown.  Christ commanded them to “Let these men [His disciples] go” and that mob obeyed, as did this one.  They shifted, turned at the power of the voice.  These desperate men took their rage and their guns and pocketed them for another time, another place.

The stairs and landings outside of the Oradea train station simply emptied, miraculously, quickly, like the gypsies jumping from the train.

No earthquake, no lightning or thunder, simply the power of the Word fitly spoken with authority, the right person at the right time.

Other-worldly.

Virgil turned back to us with his boyish grin.  “Come on, you guys, I’m a cab driver.  I’ll take ya where ya needs to be.”

There were few words left.  Larry came back from the stationhouse with no success in reaching Josef on the antiquated pay phone.  “No worries,” Virgil replied as he loaded our bags into his taxi.  “Just get in.  I gotcha.”

Bags in, we left the station and sped off into the dark Romanian countryside.

 

Brett says that these incidents are etched into her.  That’s a good way to look at it.  She remembers feeling very small in the scheme of the world while riding in a taxi through the dark, quiet, foggy Romanian night.

No one on earth knows where we are.  Only the stars, and they are usually silent.

 

Virgil drove us to a nice, well-lit hotel in the city. “I think this is where Brother Josef would want you to stay,” he said as he unloaded our bags, spoke with the concierge, called Josef and then delivered us, luggage and all, safe and sound to our rooms.  Dazed, we followed him like little children following their teachers, trusting, unquestioning.

Spence and Larry, the brothers-no-longer-grim, tried to give him money, pay him for both the ride and the valiance, but he refused.  A tip at least, they pled, for the man who saved us from the night and its terrors.  Boston accent still a sweet comfort, Virgil refused solidly, “No thanks, guys.  I won’t take yah money.  This one’s on me.  See ya.”

Disregarding the protests of the grateful brothers, Virgil left us, unceremoniously and un-tipped.

We trudged numb to our rooms.  And slept.

 

Romanian breakfasts are hearty and we were starving.  The night’s ordeal was already tucking itself neatly into our collective history.  Brother Josef and his wife Elizabeth met us for breakfast in the hotel’s modest lobby and we told our story, all pitching in on the telling of it.

What a story!  We can’t wait to tell it back at home.  Gypsies on the train, acute darkness ~ no light bulbs! ~ surrounded and touched by anger at the stationhouse, Virgil just showing up out of the blue.  Can you believe that?  An English-speaking cab driver who wouldn’t even take any money for his efforts?   I don’t know what we would have done without him!  In true American fashion, we babbled loud and long between bites of muffins and sausages, paying little attention to the silent countenances of our hosts.  Full-stomached, we finally got quiet, our story told.

Wonder and strange phenomena were not uncommon for Josef.  In his bleak prison years, Josef had seen miraculous things.  Like Paul and Silas and other martyrs and near-martyrs before him, Josef had a heightened sense of God’s presence and His work in the darkest of hours.

He finally spoke.

“Providence paid a visit last night,” he declared with strength.  “The cab drivers in Oradea do not speak English.  English is a too great commodity here for an English-speaker to ever merely drive a cab.  No one here would ever refuse any money, any payment.  We are a poor people, we need many things.  There is so much stealing, so much harm.”  He looked at us with wonder.  “You were protected last night with power beyond us, safety sent from God. Apart from this, your story is impossible.”

Impossible.

 

The apostle Paul said to be kind to strangers, for you might be entertaining angels without knowing it.  It seems God sent an angel that dark night, a guardian, not unlike Dante’s guardian Virgil who guided him through his netherworld, his infernal night.  Our Virgil stepped unasked out of the misty night fog in his Ivy sweatshirt and saved us in every way.

God sent an angel.

Maybe not.  It could’ve been just a coincidence, a lucky break.

Maybe.

But you know, I decided long ago to pitch in my lot with the celestial.  I believe.

We entertained an angel, unaware.  Or rather, he entertained us.

What the Star Sees

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“Bright Star!  Were I steadfast as thou art!”  John Keats

 

Since the second day, the stars have been aloft, silent steadfast night watchers.  It overwhelms to think about what they have witnessed, through the years and years what they have seen.

Perhaps the Christmas star has seen the most ~ perhaps it is she who has the stories to tell, she who can provide glimpses, snatches of meaning in the blur of human movement.

She watched a pregnant, teenage girl on mule-back, trudging, toiling heavy toward the foreign city called Bethlehem. “No Vacancy” her only greeting, barn animals to low and bleat her newborn His first lullaby.

Saw two very different kinds of men who knew the stars, studied them and lived with them, these men moving those first nights, journeying with crown and gift, lamb and staff, drawn as one to One, to the brightness of something new.

Angel voices, cherubim and seraphim, warming up, tuning, piercing the night sky, opening the darkness of millennia past and future to sing the long-awaited song of hope ~ the promise of life and life and life to come.

Did the star move too, adjust metaphorically or metaphysically, to actually house itself above a lowly, Jewish stable?  Did she shift her eternal spot to sit above a manger, to guide, to watch?

 

It seems the Christmas story is about movement, journey, love-paths from here to there.

 

My brother Eric, Santa-clad, trekking out late, so late on Christmas Eve, Santa-bag filled, at the door of a family who this year most needs a miracle visit, stress-pressed toward unbelief.  Not all years are easy ones, but hope still knocks.

The star sees this.

 

Homeless fellows in new sleeping bags, asleep under bridges still, but warmer than they were, never knowing that they have Corey and Kim and Kris to thank.  Love still moves.

The star sees this.

 

A phone call, a Christmas card, a note sent for the first time in many years, a tiny step toward forgiveness, reconciliation, a first act of contrition.  Movements dancing toward restoration.  Someone takes the first dance step.

The star sees.

 

She watches the comings-and-goings of travelers.  The journey last Christmas Eve to cold Wisconsin to share Christmas morning with the newlyweds, the star watched us slush along the snowy roads, packages piled high in the backseat, Burl Ives’ creamy voice for miles and miles ~ “It’s a Holly Jolly Christmas” ~ hot coffee every stop, warm toes stuffed into lined boots, preparing for unaccustomed snows.

The star reminds us that the journey is the best part of the gift.

 

She sees the overly busy ~ Romans building empires and post-modern folk doing the same.  No time for worship, no pause, there are too many things to conquer, too many people to overlook, to destroy.

The star knows that quiet does not connote lack of meaning, but most often, just the opposite.

 

That Christmas we took gifts to the apartment complex and daughter, then so young, asked why the babies had such messy legs and bottoms, and looking, we realized that these babies of poverty were being diapered with the day’s newspaper and Scotch tape ~ Susie’s tearful drive to Walmart to buy every proper diaper those bulging shelves offered.

The star sees all these things, in so many places with far too much regularity.

 

That coldest of winters when Sally and Larry, mother and son, met the boy Jimmy, now Pastor Jim, and rescued him from the Mississippi shack, falling down it was, no heat, winter wind cold-blowing through floorboards.  A little sister, a simple child, imprisoned in a cold, dark closet, forgotten was she?  All hungry, all dirty, all lost, no parent in sight.  Found them clothes and a proper place to stay.  One survived the nightmare of this upbringing, one did not.

Does the star weep, watching this story over and over through the millennia?

 

So many questions to ask her.  So much has she seen from her lofty height, steadfast and unchangeable, silent, while we are here below, longing.  For wisdom, guidance, knowledge.  We want to understand.

So I ask.

What happens to those babies, newspaper-clad?

How will the homeless stay warm this winter if there are no blankets brought?

And the poor, the simple children locked in forgotten closets?  No Christmas gift, no salvation for them?  “Are there no workhouses, no orphanages?” Scrooge mercilessly asked, pre-dreams, certainly not alone in the cruelty of this sort of query.

What do I do when people refuse the dance steps of reconciliation?  What if the note is never written, the phone number not dialed, forgiveness remains unasked-for?

Is the world too broken?

How can that be when there is also so much beauty?

Beauty in ashes, hope unbloomed, how is it?

 

Her answer is soft, quiet.  Answers do come, but so often they arrive on a whiff, a breath, a thought swift-fleeting, missed if not listening closely, closely.

Paradox is at the root of the Christmas story, the star whispers.  Wounded perfection, beauty coupled with trouble, from the beginning a homeless teenage Mother bore the Light in a darkened place, journeyed from known to unknown, carrying Hope.

Do what you can, is the star’s whispered answer.  Take the steps, join the journey, and do what you can.  The world is not too broken and joy does not lie slain.  Indeed, the hearts of Scrooges do soften, Grinches’ hearts can become large.  So do not wait to do what you can.

Prayers are still answered, though oft in ways as varied as the stars.

 

On the second day the Lord made the stars, and the bright Christmas star has been watching ever since, so many things has she seen, the wondrous and the dreadful.  She sees the terrible beauty of it all.

I open my eyes and my heart and accept the paradox, embrace the journey.

I will try to say with Mary, “I am the Lord’s servant, may it be to me as you have said.”  The pure in heart are blessed and see God because they want to, they are seeking Him, steadfastly, simply.  I want to be pure in heart ~ I want to see God.

It seems the Christmas story is indeed about movement, journey, paths of love from there to here.

Mary did what she could, and I will do the same.

And the star will see.