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Home > Oasis > Journaling > Holidays

 

 

 

 

 


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As much as we resist the commercial emphasis on gift giving at Christmas, who does not find an “ah” escaping from deep within when presented with a gift that was neither expected nor deserved? And who has not felt the excitement of buying something for someone on a whim just because it seemed to ‘have their name on it’? When buying presents becomes obligatory, however, and we run around the mall days before the holidays, frantic to find something for everyone ‘on our list,’ the grace of gift giving gets lost from the moment. Take time this week to remember the grace of special gifts given and gifts received. Then savor the sweetness of meaningful presents, those that express a message from the heart.

Where have I given or received unexpected and undeserved gifts of grace?

In my family?
In my work?
In my community?
In my soul?



Merry-making always lightens the heart and gives us a new perspective on life. We can easily become burdened by the never-ending details of daily existence. Over time, we move almost robotically through the round of daily-ness, intent only on checking off the items on our to-do list. It’s then that we need some merry-making. A party, a celebration will put an exclamation point on our life. Rather than frenetically planning the perfect holiday, we might do well to let the party unfold as it will, being content merely to gaze into the kaleidoscope to see fresh new patterns. We might be surprised to find that what had seemed onerous, overtaxing, even unpleasant, becomes a robust festivity that lets us forget the details of life and revel in the feasting and fellowship that bring new energy and relieves the regularity of our routines. Take time this week to reflect on your willingness to let heaven provide another lens through which you can view your life.


In what ways can I be open to heavenís hand in the merry-making events of my life?

In my family?
In my work?
In my community?
In my soul?

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It is said that the quality of hospitality was altered significantly with the invention of the garage door opener because we could then enter or leave our homes without ever encountering another human being. When we close the doors of our homes to all but our closest friends, we can easily close our hearts to all but those who are most familiar and trusted. When others who are different from us or unknown to us are kept away from the open door of our heart, we miss hearing the word of God in an unexpected way from an unexpected source. Hospitality is, more often than not, a necessity for us more than the one to whom it is being extended. Take time to reflect this week on how your heart and home are closed, and how God might want you to open the door for a peek outside.

How might I open the door in my life in ways that might expose me
to a new word from heaven?

In my family?
In my work?
In my community?
In my soul?

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Because the holidays are sprinkled with stress from the middle of October until the beginning of next year, we can find ourselves dreading rather than delighting in them. Having too many things to do and too many expectations can leave us feeling scattered and empty rather than excited and curious. That’s when it’s time for some hot chocolate and peppermint. Try this: Make a cup of hot chocolate and put a red and white peppermint stick in it. Close your eyes and lift the cup to your face. Smell the warm, wet sweetness. Slowly sip and savor the taste. Take a full 15 minutes to linger over your enchanting drink. Thank God for the wonder of such small pleasures. When you have finished, take note of how happy your soul feels, and thank God again. Take time this week to reflect on the abundance of the simple things God gives us to bring joy to our heart.


What simple, pleasurable moments can I revel in that let me taste the sweetness of heaven?

In my family?
In my work?
In my community?
In my soul?

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Oftentimes, it is the decorations that impart some of the most energizing and delightful moments in the holidays. Lights and tinsel, greenery and glitter stir up patterns in life that have turned normative. We become like children again as we look forward to putting up the Christmas tree, stringing the lights, hanging the wreath and displaying decorations that have been part of our holiday for years and years. Not only do these decorations take us back to childhood memories, they awaken our creative spirit that delights in color and texture. The entire creation is charged with particles of decoration – with color and grain – and somehow holiday decorations rekindle our attention to God’s handiwork throughout the world. Take time this week to reflect on the patterns and colors that God has so whimsically placed around you and let your playfulness be reborn.


How can I add color and texture to my life?

In my family?
In my work?
In my community?
In my soul?

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It happens every 24 hours. The darkness that holds the earth in sleep fades, as the sun rises in the eastern sky and overcomes the last trace of night. Both light and dark are equal contributors to the coming of dawn and dusk. But, when the world lay in a darkness deeper than the blackest night, heaven glanced down and sent us an eternal light so we would know the promise of hopefulness, the excitement of delight, the energy of joy. We can see things in the light that are hidden while darkness prevails. Take time to reflect this week on what signs of heaven are visible to you because the eternal Light of God has come.


How is God’s light bringing me hope, delight and joy?

In my family?
In my work?
In my community?
In my soul?

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Mother Teresa spent most of her life dealing with disguises. When reflecting on her work caring for the sick and dying people of Calcutta, she said she was able to continue because in them she saw Jesus “in his distressing disguise.” She understood that God could be known in the least expected places. She was able to see what was beyond sight. Likewise, the three kings who came to visit an infant in Bethlehem knelt before that infant to present their treasures because they somehow saw in a helpless infant, the face of the Holy One. Take time to reflect this week on how God can be found even in the most surprising disguises.


How can I begin to recognize Christ disguised in my everyday life?

In my family?
In my work?
In my community?
In my soul?

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Every change of season wakes us up with a spark of awe. The sheer movement of nature’s rhythms that are punctuated by change reminds us that nothing ever stays the same: new experiences, new challenges, new energy, new life always stand ready to greet us just over the horizon. When the coldness of winter descends and we stand mute before a silent snowy night, we are awakened to the awe of stillness. We become surprisingly alert to the possibility and potential that such stillness can bring. Take time this week to slip into the stillness of winter and let the Spirit of the Holy One reveal something new to your soul.


What new things are ready to emerge this winter?


In my family?
In my work?
In my community?
In my soul?

 

 

 

   
 


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