1319. We have to go into the despair and go beyond it, by working and doing for somebody else, by using it for something else. ~Elie Wiesel

One wants to believe that there’s one relationship
in life that’s beyond betrayal. A relationship that’s beyond
that kind of hurt. And there isn’t.
~Edited quote by Caleb Carr

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There is a brokenness
out of which comes the unbroken,
a shatteredness
out of which blooms the unshatterable.
There is a sorrow
beyond all grief which leads to joy
and a fragility
out of whose depths emerges strength.
There is a hollow space
too vast for words
through which we pass with each loss,
out of whose darkness
we are sanctioned into being.
There is a cry deeper than all sound
whose serrated edges cut the heart
as we break open to the place inside
which is unbreakable and whole,
while learning to sing.
~Rashani Réa

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An ex-student of mine posted a letter on Facebook today in which she asked us all to remember that for a variety of reasons not everyone will have or is having a wonderful Christmas time. And so today, I’ve given thought to things that break and shatter us at times. No one is exempt from sorrow and grief in this world. And though we must and should allow ourselves time to “hold” onto and weep over the “dark nights of our souls,” it seems to me that we also have to leave each and every heartbreak at some point in time in the past and then seek and use the “lessons” that the gouging of the soul has shed light upon.

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. ~Psalm 34:18  ✝

**Images via the Internet; collage at top created by Natalie

1014. I love at least one night by the Christmas tree to sing and feel the quiet holiness of that time that’s set apart to celebrate love, friendship, and God’s gift of the Christ child. ~Amy Grant

Christmas in Bethlehem. The ancient dream:
a cold, clear night made brilliant by a glorious star,
the smell of incense, shepherds and wise men
falling to their knees in adoration of the sweet baby,
the incarnation of perfect love.
~Lucinda Franks

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When everyone had gone
I sat in the library
With the small silent tree,
She and I alone.
How softly she shone!

And for the first time then
For the first time this year,
I felt reborn again,
I knew love’s presence near.
Love distant, love detached,

And strangely without weight,
Was with me in the night
When everyone had gone
And the garland of pure light
Stayed on, stayed on.
~May Sarton

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” ~Luke 2:8-11  ✝

**Image found on Pinterest

1011. It is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas when its mighty Founder was a child Himself. ~Charles Dickens

Were I a philosopher, I should write a philosophy of toys,
showing that nothing else in life need be taken seriously,
and that Christmas Day in the company of children is one
of the few occasions in which men become entirely alive.
~Robert Lynd

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Life grew very hard for me in my late 30‘s, and the difficulties spilled over well into my forties. As a result I was becoming more and more cynical about “life, love, and the pursuit of happiness.” Those circumstances were made worse by the 20 year derailment in my faith journey and both were aiding and abetting a steady, downward spiral into the “black abyss” of hopelessness. So my doctor recommended that I go see a counselor, and I did, but reluctantly at first. Though it wasn’t long before I warmed to her, it took a while longer before I started really opening up about the burdensome issues that had brought me to her door. Then one afternoon as the session was about to end, she said, “I want you to imagine that you are a 4 year old child.” I replied, “Okay,” and then she asked, “If you were that 4 year old, what would want to do right this very minute?” Without too much consideration, I blurted out, “go get a chocolate ice-cream cone.” After hearing my response she immediately stood up, smiled, and said, “All right. I shall see you next week and TODAY on the way home I want you to stop and have a chocolate ice cream cone.” When I started to ask why, she quickly replied, “Just do it. I’ll explain next time.” So I stopped and got the chocolate ice cream cone, and I do have to say that it might possibly have been the very best ice cream cone I’ve ever had. The point was and is that the child in all of us doesn’t die. It’s simply that the accumulating years of growing and changing cover over him or her as happens with a path no longer traveled. And so it was that miraculously after clearing the way with one weekly ice cream cone after the other, the healing of my brokenness got under way, the getting back on track with my faith journey got under way, and the nourishing of my starving inner child, who was essential in restoring joy, hopefulness, and a sense of wonder, also got under way. Praise the Lord!

Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childish days; that can recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth; that can transport the sailor and the traveller, thousands of miles away, back to his own fire-side and his quiet home! ~Charles Dickens 

And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people.” ~Luke 2:10  ✝

**Image found on Pinterest

 

1010. He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree. ~Roy L. Smith

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas
Everywhere you go;
There’s a tree in the Grand Hotel, one in the park as well,
The sturdy kind that doesn’t mind the snow.
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas;
Soon the bells will start,
And the thing that will make them ring is the carol that you sing
Right within your heart!

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The wartime Christmas years introduced classic Christmas songs to the culture. The song White Christmas first debuted in 1942 in the Movie Holiday Inn. Sung by Bing Crosby it became an instant hit as its peaceful feeling hit home with both those on the home front and those on the battle front. Another Christmas standard I’ll Be Home for Christmas made its debut in 1943. The words touched the hearts of separated loved ones as the song speaks of yearning to be home at Christmas even “if only in my dreams.”

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My parents were married in 1942, and soon afterwards my dad was drafted into the Army. Following that he was coincidentally ordered to leave for basic training the day I was born, October 17, 1942. Because mom wanted dad to be able to spend a little time with me before he was sent over seas, she and I traveled by train from California to Florida when I was six weeks old. Then, when he was moved to Mississippi for his training as a medic, she and I followed him again and remained there until he departed for North Africa. After Dad shipped out, she and I left Mississippi, and as she was pregnant with my middle sister, she decided we would stay with family in Texas until Kathleen was born in December of 1943. Thinking about it now I believe Dad must have missed two Christmases with us before he was wounded and sent back home in 1945. As a young girl I remember hearing these two songs on the radio every Christmas and eventually came to know how much “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” meant to my parents. Perhaps that’s why I never hear it without tears of remembrance wetting my cheeks.

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“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come to his people and redeemed them. He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David…” ~Luke 1:68-69 ✝

1007. “The magi, as you know, were wise men–wonderfully wise men–who brought gifts to the Babe in the manger. They invented the art of giving Christmas presents.” ~Excerpt from the The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry

We three kings of Orient are;
Bearing gifts we traverse afar,
Field and fountain, moor and mountain,
Following yonder star.
O star of wonder, star of night,
Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to thy perfect light.
~Excerpt from a hymn
by John H. Hopkins, Jr. (1857)

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The Journey Of The Magi

“A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.
And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.

Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wine-skins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arriving at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory.

All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again…”
~Excerpt from a poem by T.S. Eliot

After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. ~Matthew 2:9-11  ✝

**White horse image found on Pinterest

1006. My beloved is mine and I am His… ~Excerpt from Song of Songs 2:16 ✝

Wilt thou love God, as he thee? Then digest,
My Soul, this wholesome meditation,
How God the Spirit, by Angels waited on
In heaven, doth make His Temple in thy breast.
~Excerpt from the Holy Sonnet XV
by John Donne

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Christianity is a love story. It is about love lost at Eden and love restored at Calvary. We alone out of all creation were made not mere to serve God but to love Him and be loved by Him. It was not the angels and archangels whom He made for love; He made them for ministry (Hebrews 1:14); He made us for intimacy (v. 13: Ephesians 2:6).

The heart of God, the desire of God, the greatest command of God, is not about obedience, not about worship, not about service, not about study, but about love–loving God with everything we have, even as He loves us with everything He has. But, sadly, we have often replaced love with law, intimacy with theology, delight in God with duty to God, being found with God with being sound about God. Our speech about God has the cold sterility of the scientist rather than the thrill of the poet. We have interpreted texts, but we have somehow failed to experience the reality behind them. The Holy Spirit today and always is calling His church back to intimacy with Jesus. ~These are passages from Chapter 2 of a Kindle Book, MORE, written by Rev. Simon Ponsonby, at St. Aldates in Oxford, UK.

Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. ~Deuteronomy 6:5  ✝
Jesus replied,“Love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.” ~Matthew 22:37  ✝
He(Jesus) answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” ~Luke 10:27  ✝
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” The second is this: “Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” ~Mark 12:30-31  ✝

**As we draw closer to Christmas and ready hearts to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the Prince of Peace, I thought this was a particularly good excerpt to read and “digest.” I pray that Rev. Ponsonby doesn’t mind my sharing this portion of his book.

**Image found on Pinterest

994. Give me the end of the year an’ its fun when most of the plannin’ an’ toilin’ is done… ~Edgar A. Guest

December finds himself again a child
Even as he undergoes his age.
Cold and early darkness now descends,
Embracing sanctuaries of delight.
~Nicholas Gordon

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Why do we feel restored in December
As in a sacramental time and place?
Therein Mystery is artfulness,
And therein too a vision of peace is stored,
So that healing flows from it through our eyes.
~Edited and adapted excerpt
from May Sarton

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As the year draws to an end and winter and Christmas approach, “Shall we liken what has and is coming to pass to the web in a loom?  There have been and still are many weavers, who work into the pattern the experience of their lives. When one generation goes, another comes to take up the weft where it has been dropped. The pattern changes as the mind changes, yet never begins quite anew. At first, we are not sure that we discern the pattern, but at last we see that, unknown to the weavers themselves, something has taken shape before our eyes, and that they have made something very beautiful, something which compels our attempt at understanding.” ~Edited & adapted excerpt  by Earl W. Count

…the Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace. ~Numbers 6:26   ✝

**Both images via Pinterest