Whether you turn to the right or to the left,

your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying,

“This is the way; walk in it.”

Isaiah 30:21

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A poem for the New Year, by Maya Angelou ...

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My wish for you is that you continue

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To be who and how you are 

to astonish a mean world

with your acts of kindness

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To allow humor to lighten the burden

of your tender heart

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In a society dark with cruelty

to let the people hear the grandeur

of God in the peals of your laughter

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To let your eloquence

elevate the people to heights

they had only imagined

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To remind the people that

each is as good as the other

And that no one is beneath 

Nor above you

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To remember your own young years

and look with favor upon the lost

and the least and the lonely

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To put the mantle of your protection

around the bodies of

the young and defenseless

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To take the hand of the despised

And diseased and walk proudly with them

in the high street

Some might see you and

Be encouraged to do likewise

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To plant a public kiss of concern

on the cheek of the sick

and the aged and infirm

And count that as

Natural action to be expected

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To let gratitude be the pillow

upon which you kneel to

say your nightly prayer

And let faith be the bridge

you build to overcome evil

and welcome good

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To ignore no vision

which comes to enlarge your range

and increase your spirit

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To dare to love deeply

and risk everything

for the good thing

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To float

happily in the sea of infinite substance

which set aside riches for you

before you had a name

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And by doing so

you and your work

will be able to continue

Eternally.

 

Amen, and amen, Maya ...

Happy 2020!

 

I am very proud ...

Why did God descend, take on flesh, be born in a manger to a simple peasant girl?

Why?

Shakespeare, in Hamlet, nails it in his self-diagnosis, which - in the end - is the diagnosis of all of us.

This is us.

This is me:

I could accuse me of such things that it were better my mother had not borne me: I am very proud, revengeful, ambitious, with more offenses at my beck than I have thoughts to put them in, imagination to give them shape, or time to act them in.

Thank you, William Shakespeare, for being sparsely brilliant with words.

For reminding me afresh that I cannot save myself, but need a Force, a Goodness larger and fiercer than my own, to invade this dark world, my own dark soul ...

Before the celebration next week, we must reckon with the reason for it all.

It is not "those politicians," "those crooked CEOs," "those people who are other than me," who are the problem.

It is me.

It is you.

It is us.

 

The only proper response ...

Sharon's Christmas Prayer - by John Shea

She was five, sure of the facts, and recited them with slow solemnity

convinced every word

was revelation.

She said

they were so poor

they had only peanut butter and jelly sandwiches

to eat

and they went a long way from home

without getting lost. The lady rode

a donkey, the man walked, and the baby

was inside the lady.

They had to stay in a stable

with an ox and an ass (hee-hee)

but the Three Rich Men found them

because a star lited the roof.

Shepherds came and you could 

pet the sheep but not feed them.

Then the baby was borned.

And do you know who he was?

Her quarter eyes inflated

to silver dollars.

The baby was God.

 

And she jumped in the air

whirled round, dove into the sofa

and buried her head under the cushion

which is the only proper response

to the Good News of the Incarnation.

With laughter in his eyes ...

"Advent begins in the dark and yearns for the light.

Advent aches for the day when we shall not learn war anymore.

Advent yearns for 'the last day, when Jesus Christ shall come in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead.'

And when he comes, we shall sob.

Sob with relief at his return. 

Sob with humiliation and sadness at what we have done to one another.

But he shall not turn away to let us get ourselves together. 

He shall gather us up in his arms, with laughter in his eyes, and rise with us to life immortal. 

And our dark hearts will no longer be dark.

Our deepest desire will be to be ruled by him, who rules with grace.

We will love him because he has loved us.

We may long for his judgment and authority because he once visited us in great humility.

The darkness of your heart beckoned him, and he came for you."

(From Faith Once Delivered, by Paul N. Walker)