Grounded in love...

Every year about this time - sometimes earlier in Advent but rarely later - Di and I get away for a few days before the fullness and demands of Christmas at church. Our practice in the past has been that every 6-8 weeks we take a small mini-retreat just to reconnect. For a long time I felt like this was selfish, but in the trade they call this "self-care" and for the past 10 years I have come to swear by it.

Sadly, we have not been able to do much of this for the past six months given the demands of our upcoming sabbatical, my father's illness and death and the realities of church life at this time of year. So, when we realized that Di was not scheduled for work - and I had a modest end of the week schedule - we made arrangements for lodging and raced out of Dodge for a time of quiet contemplation, conversation and rest. It was heaven: we slept, talked, rested, listened to one another, walked, prowled bookstores, ate well and even took in the new "Hunger Games" movie.  For the first time in a long time, I feel rested and fully alive.  We were able to get Christmas gifts for those who are closest to our hearts while we were away. We were able to chill and be real with one another. And enjoy being alive in our respective skins after so much grief.

Tonight, when we returned to our sweet home, we decorated our Christmas
tree and listened to the quiet music of Carlos Nakai and Loreena McKennit. As we lit candles and remembered the stories surrounding each ornament, I felt blessed to be alive. I was overwhelmed with sadness, too as I owned how much I miss my father these days. But it felt good to be home. 

I am grounded now and ready to be present for worship tomorrow as well as through the Christmas festivities. The collect for the Fourth Sunday of Advent is powerful to me tonight:

Purify our conscience, Almighty God, by your daily visitation, that your Son Jesus Christ, at his coming, may find in us a mansion prepared for himself; for he lives and reigns withyou, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

My heart feels like this ancient carol tonight... sad but alive and grounded in love and hope. May the blessings of Advent continue to grow for you as we move into the Feast of the Incarnation...

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