When tears fall at Christmas

When the joy and laughter around you, makes you sad and brings you to tears;  When the Christmas carols only serve to still the voice inside you to mourning;  when the merry making and visits of friends make you feel a deep vacuum inside and all around you because something, someone is not in the picture,  What do you do then,  when the tears flow at Christmas? 

The tree is decorated, the adornments are up but the most important, precious adornments of the house are not.  The loss of your loved ones and pets is a physical pain. 

Last year, we ‘survived’ Christmas because the externals were scaled down due to Covid so there were less ‘reminders’ of family time.  This year, “Christmas” has returned, Covid or no Covid, and the traditions and the ‘joys’ of Christmas are back in almost full measure.  But the joy in your heart has been replaced by grief in almost full measure. So, what do you do when tears flow at Christmas?

There is a spiritual dilemma here, for being a Catholic, I know I should be rejoicing at the birth of the Saviour, finding joy in the traditions that have come to epitomize Christmas, and even more than that, experiencing joy in the fundamental message of Christmas – Rejoice and be glad for this day is born to you the Saviour of the World. 

It just seems so very hard to rejoice and be glad … and that has been troubling me. Where is my faith? Where is my hope? Where is my belief in the Good News?

That last question made me think.  What is the Good News?

The good news is not just Christmas trees and gifts, mistletoe and wine, logs on the fire as carolers sing.  The good news is not the stockings that Santa fills with a ‘Ho Ho Ho’ to cheer you .   Nor is it the table laden with good foods that fill you up.  All these are good and fine, but not really the “Good News” of Christmas.

The “Good News” of Christmas was the first words the Babe in the manger uttered as a grown man as he opened the temple scroll :

“  …I have come to bring the good news to the poor,

to heal the brokenhearted,

to preach deliverance to the captives,

and recovery of sight to the blind,

to set at liberty them that are bruised…” Luke 4.18.

I had read this verse so many times before. I love the image of Jesus picking up the scroll in the temple in his first public appearance – but I was never broken-hearted before and the good news passed over my head. 

Today the words took on a new meaning, reminding me also of the many I know who are grieving this Christmas. A friend in the UK who held his wife in his arms struggling to give her oral resuscitation as the breath quietly left her body.  A classmate whose husband had an unexpected fatal heart attack. A friend in Australia who still grieves for the brother, husband and parents who left many years ago leaving a void she has not been able to fill.  Young parents who’s little one joined the angels in heaven a week ago after more than a year of hope and prayers that he would survive an accident.  The community grieves with them and thousands of others whose loved ones left this year – or in recent times – victims to Covid, accidents, violence, bomb blasts or just the natural cycle of life.  

Death where is thy stingDeep in my heart, I reply.  But a deeper voice inside me convicts me.  The sting of death is deep only in a heart without hope and without faith.  And without gratitude for what you had.     

So I remind myself that the pain may be there but hope and faith – and Love – will see me through. The “Good News” is that I don’t have to force myself to fill the vacuum. I can feel broken-hearted and empty. I can grieve and be bruised in my grief … knowing that there is a promise – many promises – and that I can lean on Him, the Christ Child.  I can go direct to Him whose words ring true for all time – for this is the reason he came.

Come to me all those who are weary and heavy burdened

Come to me … I will give you the answer, I will give you rest.  I will give you peace; I will set you free from all the troubles that oppress you.    

Yet you refuse to come to me to have life John 5.40

And thus this Christmas I invite all who are sad, whose tears are flowing to strive to remember that the Lord is coming.  Go out to meet Him.  He is the Prince of peace and we can find peace through our pain only if we lean on Him and let Him fill the empty void in our hearts.  

A blessed and holy Christmas to you all.

Forcing the Christmas spirit

Christmas – the most joyous time of the year. There has always been an ‘ air and feel’ of Christmas … a sort of an expectancy. Everyone rushing around, occupying themselves mostly with externals … but deep down .. that feeling of waiting, yearning for the 24th night… that most special night in history when God became man; nay – God became a naked little babe in a cattle shed, born ‘illegitimately’ by worldly standards to a young Jewish girl – with her betrothed husband at her side.

With such a beautiful event to celebrate, Christmas has always been very special. Granted, as kids, it was mostly the joy of new clothes and of gifts galore – first from Santa, then our parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, grandparents. We would return home on Christmas night with the car trunk laden with our gifts.

As we grew older, Christmas became more than gifts and Santa. Carol services, decorating, baking, inviting friends over – all became part of the Christmas traditions. As we matured, these were replaced by activities more closely linked to spiritual traditions – advent wreaths, church decorations, Sunday School Nativity plays, charity project church fellowship and of course through all of these family family family!! Family was there in the thick of it – especially my Mum and twin sister .👩‍👧‍👧

And now … Mum is not with us this Christmas. She moved on in June to be in the embrace of her Maker … leaving us with a huge vacuum. A vacuum that I am finding hard to fill, to face, to accept.

It was a bit too much to face, so without discussion, since Queen Bee’s name would not be there, we automatically dropped the Kris Kindle ritual this year. We dropped a lot of other things too including Advent wreath, decorations and carols. Covid too did its part to put, for us at least, a welcome spoke in festivities.

Still, the spirit of Christmas past comes back – like it did to Scrooge – but for me the memories hurt. Fun, laughter that we shared; midnight mass on the same pew, breakfast together, the extra touches Mum put on the table, the family dinner and the joy and mystery of distributing Kris Kindle … somehow everyone seemed to draw an extra name for Nans!! And no one knew how that happened. No, we knew. everyone wanted to give Nans something. After Dad died, she became the sole Elder, the Queen Bee whom all the grand children migrated to with their woes and troubles. She was their confidante, advisor and friend.

And now Christmas is upon us. The night we used to wait for with bated breath is almost here. I really cannot believe it is Wednesday the 23rd!!! Where is my Christmas spirit ?

At the urging of a childhood friend Felicia (who went through a similar grief a few years ago just before Christmas) I forced myself to put up a tree on the 21st when the thought struck me that Mum will be with the heavenly choirs – and with Dad – proclaiming the Birth of our Lord. And she would want us to join in singing Gloria in Excelsis Deo. It is His birth we are celebrating.

So I forced myself to play some carols today. And as I forced myself to listen – and as the tears started .. . I started to pen my thoughts.

I am forcing myself to feel joy externally – to find joy in the traditions that have come to epitomise Christmas, and trying to find joy in the message of Christmas. Rejoice and be glad for this day is born to you the Saviour of the World. I do rejoice and am glad … but I am definitely not merry or joyful. And that was troubling me because I thought I ought to be.

But then I remembered that I do not have to put on a show for myself … to force the Spirit of Christmas for that Babe – for that same Babe came:

…”to bring the good news to the poor, to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised…” Luke 4.18.

I had read that verse so many times before. I love the image of Jesus picking up the scroll in the temple in his first pubic appearance – but I was never broken-hearted before and that news passed over my head. Today that spoke to me. The Good News is that I don’t have to force myself to fill up the vacuum. I can feel broken-hearted and empty. I can grieve and be bruised in my grief … knowing that there is a promise and an answer. I have to wait in patience with the sure hope that the Christ Child will fill up this vacuum with His Love .. His mercy, and His compassion. He has promised us this.

So many people are broken-hearted this year having lost family to Covid as well as to age, and so many are separated from family at this time of family love.

May the blessings of this holy season fill all of us with His peace and love. … and may health return to the planet and its people. ☮️ 💟🙏

The Edwards and Ranils of this world

have much in common.  Both are bachelors.

Both visited us last week.  Edward – a Christian came on the 24th before going to his village for the holidays.  He is not married, has no immediate family and no fixed dwelling. He stays wherever he is offered a bed ‘free’ or at low cost.

Ranil – a Buddhist – visited after Christmas.  He lives nearby with his mother and brother. Continue reading

Letting God work on us

Prayer has far more to do with what God wants to do in us than with our trying to “reach” or “realize,” still less “entertain,” God in prayer.

This truth eliminates anxiety and concern as to the success or non-success of our prayer, for we can be quite certain that, if we want to pray and give the time to prayer, God is always successful and that is what matters.

What we think of as our search for God is, in reality, a response to the divine Lover drawing us to himself.  There is never a moment when divine Love is not at work.

This work is nothing other than a giving of the divine Self in love.

The logical consequence for us must surely be that our part is to

let ourselves be loved,
—let ourselves be given to,
let ourselves be worked upon by this great God
and made capable of total union with Him. “

This reflection extracted from Ruth Burrows Essence of Prayer  so closely resembles my Advent wish ‘Receive His Love’  from a different perspective that I thought I would share it as my Christmas post.

My wish for my Christian brothers and people of all faiths is that we will let God – whoever you conceive Him to be – to work on us this Christmas so there is peace on earth,  good will and love amongst men.

See more at: http://www.ignatianspirituality.com/ignatian-prayer/the-spiritual-exercises/an-ignatian-prayer-adventure/week-1/#sthash.4vWR0i0k.dpuf

Love is our Salvation

One month more for Christmas – the day that Love came down.

Fleeting thoughts … a thread floating in my mind waiting to be drawn, pulled together, stitched …

I’m Ok you’re Ok …  is not OK.  It forces you, said Anthony Mello, to be OK before others accept you as OK;.  Better rather , he suggested,  “I’m an Ass …you’re  an Ass!”

Beethoven suffered because people appreciated his music but not his person – incredibly sad.

Success tells me that my work is fine while LOVE tells me that I am fine,  

Love me for a reason and let the reason be love …

Wonderful creative redemptive love that came to save me from myself

Grace freely given … without measure, without judgement, without demands

For God so loved the world that he gave his Beloved Son that whoever believed in Him might be saved. (John 3.16)

Saved from this world of conditional love

To the world of PERFECT LOVE

For only when we receive His love, can we be truly ONE with Him.

In LOVE are we saved … perfected.

RECEIVE HIS LOVE THIS CHRISTMAS

It is our SALVATION.

Image Credit : https://glenelmadventblog.files.wordpress.com