Tuesday, January 4, 2011



At the beginning of December I purchased a devotional book, Watch for the Light. I wanted to spend the entire month reflecting on the wonder that is the Incarnation. But I didn't. I let the moments slip away. And that treasure trove of life words sat on the coffee table, unopened.

Yesterday, when the earth's orbit was closest to the sun, but because we are tilted away it was bitterly cold, I picked up the book and read.

I had been tilted away from the Son as well.

It was a sermon, no, a conversation recorded 30 years ago by a Catholic priest in a small Nicaraguan town. The dialogue goes back and forth between the words of the Bible and the words of the individuals who make up the small congregation. I have always dismissed the story of the Wise Men's journey as an aside, an unimportant appendage to the story of the Babe in the manger. I should have known better.  I should have known. 

There are no unimportant words in the Bible.

"in the days of Herod the king. . .
came wise men from the East"

"He was born into tyranny."
I was born into tyranny, too; tyranny of the urgent, tyranny of my selfish appetites, tyranny of my fears. I understand tyranny all too well, bound in bad habits I am incapable of changing. But I am in denial of it all.

"When Herod the king heard this, he was very troubled"

"He came to liberate", to cast off the chains of tyranny. My chains bind just as surely as the chains of evil government or poverty or ignorance or disease.

"Afterwards, being warned in a dream that they should not 
return to where Herod was, they returned to their country
by another way." 

"He submitted to persecution."
And so do all who join His cause. All powers that be live in fear; the fear of losing control. They grasp. They persecute. They use any means necessary to preserve their power. And they hate the liberator and all who dare align themselves with him.

In the midst of the reading, my comfortable home was transformed into that bare space where the conversation took place. And the bare space where He was born. I was transformed into one of "them".

He became one of them, and I see myself in what He became. I am one of them as well. Our tyrants and chains bear different names, but they beat us down and bind us up with equal power.

And the Babe came to free us all.

This day that we are closest to the Son, yet tilted away.

He came-- to free us all!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

All Here

The New Year crept in on wet feet, swathed in mist and darkness and silence.



My soul relishes the silence.

I don't make New Year's resolutions.  And yet, this year, I am resolved.  I am resolved to be all here.  In each moment that passes.  

“Time is a relentless river and it rages on, respecter of no one.

And the only way to slow time is this: Enter fully into the current moment and the stream of time slows — slows — with the weight of a soul’s full attention.

We slow the torrent by being all here."  Ann Voskamp


Oh, I am sure there will be moments in which I will be swept away, gasping for breath, down the river of life.  I never learned to swim, and deep waters terrify.   But I am also sure that there will be many more moments of stillness as I watch the graces flow around me, those same graces that swirl around all the sons of Adam and daughters of Eve.  I will rejoice, both in the bitter and the sweet, for that is the stuff of life.  And I will find courage in enduring the difficulty, for "suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope." (Romans 5:4 ESV)

Curious, isn't it, that suffering can produce hope?

Next New Year's Eve, I want to stand in the quiet, at the ending that is another beginning, and reflect on the hope and the grace I have experienced.  

Because I was all here.