Study,songs and wrestling with the Spirit...

Now that our family - and church - Christmas feasting is over (the kids have returned to NYC although we'll still be enjoying carols through Epiphany) - I will mostly be away from work until after the 1st of the year. I am going to pray, study, listen to a ton of new/old music for my soul (and my ministry), visit a few of the area art galleries and ring in the New Year with verve, music and lots of love from my sweet wife! (Man, was THAT ever a long sentence!) We'll keep the tree lights blazing until January 7th, but I will really be out of the loop until after Epiphany.

Historically I have found that the week after Christmas is a time for me to get grounded AND refocused in prayer and the work of the soul. In Tucson, I would go to the Desert House of Prayer. In Cleveland, the Jesuit Retreat Center. Here in the Berkshires, I haven't found a prayer/retreat center - but I am in need of solitude and reflection. This Advent/Christmas has been exhausting for me given the death of my friend and colleague, Vicki., plus the retirement of a beloved church musician. And having a daughter who is experiencing the angst of very deep psychological demons has been sad and very trying, too. So, in all candor, I need a time of quiet reflection as I get ready for another year of renewal work in this wonderful but complicated congregation.

I will be blogging - it is a way of cutting to the spiritual heart for me - but I will NOT be answering the phone for church, doing pastoral calling or much of anything outwardly productive. I guess the desert really got into my soul when I was in the Southwest and I need some down time to get focused and ready for action. Right now I feel like this...

During my sabbatical in New Mexico so long ago, Dianne and I encountered this music in the Taos Pueblo. An Indian sculptor working with bones and clay turned us on to Coyote Oldman and shared the challenge of trying to honor the past while meeting new allies in the 21st century. So... when I get ready for deep prayer and reflection - really wrestling with what is nourishing and what work needs to be done - I tend to move towards these tunes... as well as these by my friends in Altan:

May God's sweet grace nourish you in these dark days between Christmas and Epiphany.


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