Epiphany:  The Rest of the Rest of the Christmas Story

January 6, 2023

For many Christians, the Feast of Epiphany marks the end of the Christmas Season and is the culminating celebration of the Twelve Days of Christmas.  The story of the Epiphany is found only in the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter Two, and it involves the non-Jewish wise men/kings/magi/astronomers (supposedly three, but no number is given in the text) who make their treacherous journey across the Middle East in search of the child prophesied to be the Messiah.  They bring their symbolic gifts of gold (kingship/royalty), frankincense (worship), and myrrh  (embalming/death) and present them to Mary before departing “by another route” to avoid alerting King Herod to the whereabouts of his kingly competition.  This story (factual or symbolic) is the last snippet we have of Jesus’ entrance into our world. 

An “epiphany” is any kind of manifestation, insight, inspiration, realization, vision, or understanding.  For these scientific men (assumed to be astrologers) from the East, seeing Jesus (who was probably a toddler by the time, not a baby in a manger or an indulged child in a palace) broke something open in them.  Their minds gave way to an unfolding of their hearts as they received the epiphany that this child was, indeed, the Messiah prophesied in the Hebrew scriptures.  They became the recipients of an indwelling, the possession of a spiritual insight, that changed them, as understood by the metaphor of traveling home “by another route.”  Just as the lowliest of the low, the shepherds, were the first people invited to come see the newborn babe, these intellectual, rational foreigners were the ones called to experience an indwelling.  The birth of Christ was/is an invitation for all people to the Divine Light.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, “If the stars should appear but one night every thousand years how man would marvel and stare.”  So much of the world takes the stars for granted, just as the news of Christmas, of Epiphany, becomes old hat.  Maybe if we only heard this story once every thousand years it would shatter our world as it did the wise men’s, as it did the shepherds, as it did the Evangelist’s John’s when he realized (epiphany) that his beloved friend Jesus was truly God:  “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1).  God Itself—the creator of everything—put on our flesh; God, like the wise men, embarked on a dangerous journey to bring a gift, a light to the world, an understanding of who God is through Jesus, God’s own expression of God’s self:  “In him (Jesus) was life, and that life was the light of all people”  (John 1:4).

In Jesus, through Jesus, the Divine Creator invites us to see, hear, and know It in ways never before possible.  Epiphany.  Our own relationship to that cosmic, distant, impersonal God is changed because God gifts us access, not only by being with us, but by being one of us, living with with us, in our own real, torn, corrupt, and broken world, in the middle of our own experiences, our own weaknesses, our own confusion, our own pain, our own death. No matter how we may feel, who we are, or where we find ourselves, we are never alone.

“The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it” (John 1:5.)  That epiphany, the promise of light and presence and hope, is the rest of the rest of the Christmas story when we have the eyes to see, the hearts to receive, and the desire to go “by another route.”

May we all be graced with epiphanies!  ~  Rosemary

Indwelling

It can happen anytime, anywhere,
if we have the eyes to see
the hearts to unfold.
It happened to Anna and Simeon,
the old, hunched-over prophets
who understood
and rejoiced.
It happened to the teenage
girl, startled, confused,
perhaps too naïve to really understand
the truth
of the moment.
It happened to the lowliest
of the low, shepherds
smelling of dung and wet wool
and also
to kings threatened by the very
nerve of it.
It happened to rational scientists,
astrologers curious about a star-sighting
that flickered light across
a desert.
It happens when a yellow rose unfurling
beckons us to bend and savor its aroma,
when we wake up to humanity
gathered around us on the subway,
when our newborn baby
sounds its first cry.
It happens in cancer wards
as two people embrace,
in the quiet morning when a candle
first comes to life,
at the lunch counter
where the salt is passed,
driving past the beggar
who will work for food.
Our eyes open, sometimes
with tears. Our hearts clench
or even expand, our breath,
our spirit, catches,
and we know
we have been gifted an
indwelling,
a seed planted in us
an understanding granted us
a hope winding its way
through us,
a light illuminating
our darkness as we let forth
a sacred sigh
and bow our heads
in wonder.

©  Rosemary McMahan

Photo credit: Rosemary McMahan

Thursday, Advent Week 3: Shine

The Psalms of Advent, December 15, 2022

You are invited to light a candle and join me as we reflect upon the final psalm selected for Advent, as designated in the Revised Common Lectionary.  I hope you will sit with this psalm and listen for the word that Spirit is whispering to you. Today’s poem, Psalm 80: 1-7; 17-19, will be used in worship in many Christian churches the fourth Sunday of Advent, the last Sunday before the celebration of Christmas Day, so it is appropriate that the word that draws me in is light

Psalm 80: 1-7; 17-19

Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel,
you who lead Joseph like a flock!
You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth
before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh.
Stir up your might,
and come to save us!
Restore us, O God;
let your face shine, that we may be saved.
O LORD God of hosts,
how long will you be angry with your people’s prayers?
You have fed them with the bread of tears
and given them tears to drink in full measure.
You make us the scorn of our neighbors;
our enemies laugh among themselves.
Restore us, O God of hosts;
let your face shine, that we may be saved.
But let your hand be upon the one at your right hand,
the one whom you made strong for yourself.
Then we will never turn back from you;
give us life, and we will call on your name.
Restore us, O LORD God of hosts;
let your face shine, that we may be saved.
(New Revised Standard Version)

The entire psalm is divided into four parts that by now may seem familiar to us:
Verses 1-2 call to God for assistance, with the psalm’s refrain, used three times, found in verse 3.
Verses 4-6 compose an urgent plea as well as a complaint about God’s treatment of the psalmist’s people.
Verses 8-13 (not included here) describe God’s past compassionate care and the present uncomfortable situation.
Verses 14-17 renew the petition and plea with the final verses repeating the refrain: “Restore us, Lord God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved.”

Shine.  Light.  Illuminate.  Beam.  Radiate.  Glow.  Enlighten.  Gleam.  We could string these words together and wind them around a Christmas tree, then bask in their healing power as shadows, fear, confusion, and uncertainty creep away.  The entire Scripture begins with a shining at Creation: “Let there be light.”  A column of fire leads the Hebrews through the dark wilderness to the Promised Land.  Yahweh’s presence shines so brilliantly upon Moses that Moses must wear a veil to protect the people from being blinded by his glowing face.  The psalms themselves call on, seek, and celebrate light while hundreds of years after the last psalm was written, the evangelist John writes of Jesus Christ:  “What had come into the world was the light of ALL people.  The light shines in the darkness . . . “  (1: 4).  A quick Internet check reveals that the word light is used anywhere from 272 times to 433 in the Old and New Testaments.

God, by whatever name we use to entreat, implore, praise, worship, scream at, dance with, weep with, keep vigil with, is Light.  Hannukah, Diwali, Advent, and other light-filled traditions shine with that truth.  We are recipients of Light, called to shine in whatever way, small or great, we can.  My prayer this Advent Season is that we all remember that the “light shines on in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it” (John 1:5) and that we choose to shine with Love.

Shining with you ~  Rosemary

Candle-Prayer

“Light your candles quietly, such candles as you possess, wherever you are.” ~ Fr. Alfred Delp, martyred in Nazi Germany, age 38

In the small still shadow of a darkened morning
before the screeching of this broken world repeats,
I strike a match and set it to a stub of wick:
an offering of light being birthed yet again.

Before the screeching of this broken world repeats,
I breathe sacred flame-glow into heart, psyche, soul
an offering of light being birthed yet again,
a single, slender candle singing prayer.

I breathe sacred flame-glow into heart, psyche, soul,
imagine the brilliance of a hundred million candles
burning quietly on the edges of every dawn
before the screeching of this broken world repeats.

I strike a match and set it to a stub of wick,
my hope for this wounded world one fluttering flame,
a single, slender candle singing prayer
in the small still shadows of a darkened morning.

© Rosemary McMahan

Saturday, Advent Week 2: A Poem

December 10, 2022

Please light a candle and join me on this Advent journey and exploration of the Psalms of Advent.  In my last blog, I wondered about the invitation to make praise both a worship and an everyday practice and experience.  This poem is the response to my reflection on that.  Like the psalm we have looked at the last two days, Psalm 146, this, too, is a song of praise.

Sun Poem

Shouldn’t there be a ritual for the rising of the sun
each day
with candles lit and dancing,
hands upheld in welcome,
songs lifted in praise?
Watch how the sky prepares itself
swathed in azure and violet
how the trees await, limbs lifted
naked and unashamed.
The hilltop holds itself steady
as the first sliver of light appears
behind it and fog like the veils of a dancer
cloaks the water’s face
in preparation for welcome.
Shouldn’t there be a ritual for the rising of the sun
each day as it crests the horizon
in full glory, round and fat and fiery
billions of years of hot white light
a miracle
that blazes into our eyes
so that we turn away, as if it were
the face of God?
Now it ignites the fog
shimmering in pink, turns the dew
to flickering light, droplets of water
on trees into iridescent strings
of pearls, calls forth
the redbirds in
scarlet robes to sing
aubades.
Shouldn’t there be a ritual, each day,
for the rising of the sun, for the promise
of new beginnings, for the grace granted
for another chance? Shouldn’t we bow
before it, weep in humble gratitude
tremble at the power that grants
us faithful constancy, for the fact
that what could burn us instead
blesses?

Blessings to you ~ Rosemary

Poem and Photo credit: Rosemary McMahan

Wednesday, Advent Week 2: A Poem

The Psalms of Advent, December 7, 2022

Since yesterday’s post on Psalm 21 and my thoughts on the word “presence” (https://wordpress.com/view/spirit-reflections.org), I’ve had a desire to write a poem about the presence of the Divine as my meditation on this psalm.  I thought of that Presence who revealed Itself in evening walks in gardens, in burning bushes, on the tops of mountains and in mountain caves, in crossing over to new lands, in the middle of a bustling, dirty city at census time, in the temple teaching, in the towns along the lake, in a boat on a stormy night with frightened friends.  But I couldn’t get that particular poem to take shape, so I followed where the words chose to take me, to this Poem of Advent:

Flame

“The light shines on in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it” (John 1:5).

In the early hour
of a sullen December morning,
leaden sky pressed against
the windows, rain drizzling down
glazed panes,
I light a candle.
Outside, the barren trees
seem wearied
as if they would like
to tuck themselves down
to rest upon the dampened
ground.
I light a candle.
Even the birds
have gone silent,
the clamor of a world
in turmoil too much
weight for their song.
I light a candle.
Has December always been
thus? Wars and rumors of war
traveling on the winter wind?
Justice and mercy crumbling
like mountains sinking
to the frigid sea?
Sly shadows desiring only to smother
the light?
Since the beginning,
has it always been like this–
darkness snaking its way,
measuring its forward motion,
to extinguish whatever shines?

The flame of the candle
burns on
steady and still
casting a single beam
against the spattered
window. I light another
and another
candle, shadows resist
and dissolve. The rain still falls,
the gray face of the sky
still peers through
the windows
yet the light shines on
and the darkness cannot understand,
cannot overcome it.
I open my lips
to whisper a prayer:
May I be the light,
may you be the light,
stemming from the Source
that continues to flame upwards
to sing.

My Advent prayer is that we be the Light-Bearers who carry the presence of the Divine Light into this much troubled and fractured world.  Blessings ~ Rosemary

© Poem and photo credit: Rosemary McMahan

Saturday,  Advent Week 1: Sacred Reading

The Psalms of Advent, December 2, 2022

You are invited to light a candle and join me on this journey of reflecting on the psalms chosen for the Season of Advent, most recently Psalm 72, found here: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm%2072&version=NRSVUE.  A couple of days ago, I mentioned that I am not a scholar of the psalms.  I simply chose them as something to explore in this season of expectation and waiting.  I appreciated very much what a fellow blogger posted:  “I actually love that you are not a scholar of the Psalms. The vast majority of us are not. Your thoughts and reflections remind me that the Psalms are for me, just ordinary, not scholarly me” (Visit her blog on spirituality:  Living on Life’s Labyrinth).   Yes, the psalms are exactly for “ordinary” us.

The Book of Psalms comes in all shades of color:  the red of anger, the black of despair, the purple of royalty, the blue of joy, the gray of seeking, the gold of thanksgiving.  No emotion is “inappropriate” for this book of holy poetic scripture.  No emotion is too bad to lift before God. Psalms speaks to the totality of human emotions, those we label both good and bad, that make us who we are:  ordinary people.

My approach to these psalms has been to use the ancient spiritual practice of “lectio divina,” which means “sacred reading.”  Instead of reading a piece of text for information, lectio divina (which is NOT bible study) invites us to read it for transformation, which is quite a significant difference.  We don’t rush through it.  Information feeds the head; transformation touches the heart.  The purpose of lectio is to allow time for a word or phrase to catch our attention or touch a deep part of us and so become a guide and/or an invitation as we walk our journeys. Lectio is similar to hearing that still, small voice of God, Being, Universe whisper personally to us.

So, I do not attempt to explain what the psalms are about or figure out who wrote them.  I do not research much, if anything, about each individual psalm other than what the footnotes may offer me.  What I do, instead, is to respect each psalm as the ancient piece of wisdom literature that it is.  I listen to the voice of the writer for the ancient, and yet still universal, wisdom that is shared.  I read slowly, paying attention to each word until a word or phrase tugs me back, invites me in.  Then, I meditate on it, trying (not always succeeding) to open my heart to the Light and to Love and to what the Spirit may be saying or how the Spirit may be nudging.

All of this is to say that what I hear, you may not hear. (Please see my last couple of posts as examples.)  How I interpret the message may be completely different from your interpretation.  I am neither right nor wrong, and neither are you.  My hope is that when I share my ponderings, I do so universally, in a way that speaks to ordinary people, like me, no matter who they are, who they worship, or where they are on their spiritual journeys.  In this season where so many spiritual traditions are seeking the Light, I pray that these psalms are flickers along the way.

Blessings ~ Rosemary

How the Psalms Came to Be

Imagine dozens, hundreds,
thousands, no, millions of people
all people
different people
ordinary people
standing under the sky
cobalt and immense above
them.
In their hands,
all their hands,
see birds of color:
the hot red of fiery anger
the still blue of deep joy.
the heavy black of aching grief
the harvest gold of sincere gratitude
the pale sage of silent solitude
the ash gray of ceaseless longing.
Myriads and multitudes
of colored birds
are tethered to wrists,
birds nodding, fluttering
sleeping, restless
contained, straining
when a whisper
of Spirit, a word on a wind,
invites release
and the hundreds
and thousands and millions
of tethered birds, (mine, too,
and yours)
are cut loose to fling their colors
up into the open and immense sky
writing a rainbow above the people
while a voice blesses from the heavens,
“I receive it all.”

(c) Rosemary McMahan

Picture credit: Rosemary McMahan

Wednesday, Advent 1: Humility

The Psalms of Advent

You are invited to light a candle and join me in our final reflection on this particular Psalm of Advent, Psalm 124.  Please sit with these verses:

If it had not been the Lord who was on our side
—let Israel now say—
if it had not been the Lord who was on our side,
when our enemies attacked us,
then they would have swallowed us up alive . . .
(Verses 1-3, New Revised Standard Version)

You may find the rest of the psalm here:  https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm%20124&version=NRSVUE.

This psalm ends with an affirmation of the grace of the Holy One:  “Our help is in the name of the Lord; who made heaven and earth”  (Verse 8).  My understanding of grace is that it is a gift given with no strings attached, given to those who have done nothing to earn it, and this author fully acknowledges that gift. 

As I reflected, again, on this psalm that has become more of a friend than a stranger to me over these past few days, the word that came to me is not a word found in the psalm and yet is a word that glimmered over these verses:  humility.  Here we find Jewish pilgrims on their way to the temple in Jerusalem, and while they ascend the temple steps, they sing this psalm that admits it is God, Yahweh, not themselves, who has saved them from danger.  If their God had not been on their side, repeated twice, they realize they would have found themselves in grave peril.

Here, in this psalm, notice that bragging is absent.  Here, in these ancient lines, boasting is unfathomable.  Here, in this song of worship, arrogance has no place.  The Jewish people have survived a crisis not because of their own efforts, and so the Holy One is given the credit where credit is due.  Yet, how often in our modern times do we hear politicians, bosses, religious leaders, celebrities, and perhaps even family and friends (or maybe ourselves) speak of what they have accomplished, all on their own?  In the United States, our politicians and political parties vie with one another over who has done the most, who has claimed the victory and sealed the deal, all by themselves, conveniently forgetting the American motto, “In GOD we trust.”   Our business people and multibillionaires brag about making things better, bigger, just by the touch of their hands.  “My rights” means I don’t need to consider anyone else. Psalm 124 will have none of that boasting or self-reliance, instead proclaiming that help comes from the Holy One.

Humility is tough.  We want to be seen, affirmed, and admired for our gifts, skills, accomplishments, looks, etc, etc.   We want to be appreciated.  We especially want to be paid, and paid well. And then here comes humility, reminding us that someone else, human and/or divine, has something to do with where and who we are.  Here comes humility, reminding us about that log in our own eye instead of worrying about the speck in another’s. Here comes humility, reminding us that there will always be someone better at what we do than us and still encouraging us to offer our gifts and talents anyway, not just for our good, but for the greater good. 

The root word for humility is humus, which means dirt or earth.  Humility is not about self-abasement or shame but is, instead, about being grounded enough to recognize both our blessings and gifts and our limitations and challenges.  Humility is a realization that, yes, we do need each other, and yes, we do need the Holy.

For those of us who are Christians, the prime example of humility is the Divine One who chose to lower itself to become a Human, and not any human, but a poor, blue-collar male human with no social standing or status and who never achieved a palace, a White House, a Kremlin, prestige, wealth, or rave reviews for all his efforts.  Yet in this lowering of self, the Divine-human was able to serve, teach, minister, pray, and demonstrate a kind of love that no one else could have imagined, an all-inclusive love, a grace that is extended to all people, a humility grounded in love.

I wonder, in this dark season, where I might surrender to a humbler spirit, and so I give thanks for the messages whispered from Psalm 124.    Blessings ~ Rosemary

A Psalm of Humility
after Psalm 124

If it had not been for the Spirit
who gives me courage
—let me say it—
if it had not been for the Spirit
who gives me words
when my own doubts of relevance
my own reservations of self
my own questions
about my worth
nearly drown me or stop me,
then I would not create,
I would not take the risk
to open my heart.

If it had not been for
others
—let me say it—
who encourage me
support me and remind me
that whatever gift I have
seeks to be used
for the revelation of Beauty
and Love,
for the honor
of the Holy One
here and now,
I would slink away
embarrassed
to ever bare my soul.

How grateful I am to that Spirit
and to each person, whoever
she is, whatever he believes,
who stumbled upon
this page
for sitting here with me,
for catching the bit
of dandelion fluff I blew
from these words
into the Universe
at the Spirit’s nudging,
and for listening with me
to whatever sacred message
these wonderings might reveal.

©  Rosemary McMahan

Photo credit:  Rosemary McMahan

Tuesday, Advent 1:  Waiting and Watching

The Psalms of Advent, November 29, 2022

An interesting, and perhaps intentional, aspect about the Psalms of Advent is that there are really only seven of them appointed for this season of preparation.  When I first considered this blog, I assumed there would be a different psalm every day, but not so, according to the listing in the Revised Common Lectionary.  Each psalm is given three to four days, instead of leading to a new one for a new day.  I can’t say for sure what the reasoning is behind that decision, but I will speculate that it illustrates two things about Advent preparation: waiting and anticipation.

Waiting is what the majority of us do not like to do.  Instant gratification is our siren call.  We love drive-through anything and dinners delivered right to our door.  Asking us to wait is an insult to our well-beloved and hoarded time.  Waiting can be tiring.  We can only tread water for so long.  Yet waiting is also a spiritual discipline, no matter what faith we follow.  When we wait, we realize that everything isn’t about us and that there truly is little over which we have control, other than how we wait.  We can wait with patience and trust or with anger and frustration. Waiting with each psalm intentionally slows us down and gives us the time to attend to the words, to the poetry, to the imagery.  Waiting keeps us still for a time, and in that stillness we can listen.

What else happens when we wait?  We anticipate the outcome of our waiting.  Many times, we wait for something good to happen and that anticipation feels exciting; other times, we wait with a sense of foreboding–for a test result, a goodbye, a change of well-planned dreams, a releasing.  For the authors of the Book of Psalms, anticipation was almost a constant in their journey of what would come next.  A new king?  Another oppressor?  Land of their own?  A messiah? And so they waited, sometimes faithfully, and sometimes not, just like the rest of us.

In this season of darkness and shadows, what are we waiting for and what are we anticipating?  Can we observe how we are waiting?  The psalmist tell us “To be still and know that God” is God (Psalm 46:10).  Can we trust that God is in the waiting, in the watching, in the anticipation with us?  These are the questions I ponder this season, and you are invited to ponder with me or share your own.  I would honor hearing them.

Blessings ~ Rosemary

Sunday, Advent 1: Peace

The Psalms of Advent

I invite you to light a candle and join me on this first Sunday of Advent, as we wait with the psalms and listen for a word to guide us during this dark season of winter.  We begin with the psalm appointed for today, Psalm 122, described as a “pilgrimage song,” appropriate for this winter journey. You can find the entire psalm here: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm%20122&version=CEB. Another word may very well speak to you, but the one that calls to me is repeated three times: peace.

Pray that Jerusalem has peace:
Let those who love you have rest.
Let there be peace on your walls;
let there be rest on your fortifications.”
For the sake of my family and friends,
I say, “Peace be with you, Jerusalem.”
(Verses 6-8, Common English Bible)

The pilgrims singing this song are on their way to Jerusalem, a city where justice prevails on the throne of King David.  Their pilgrimage replicates our own as we journey this life, sometimes knowing exactly where we are going, with determination and joy, and sometimes not, confused and lost.  Yet even within this sacred city, the psalmist makes a cry for peace.  Considering the never-ending turmoil in the Middle East, this psalm could have been written today as well as thousands of years ago: the plea for peace, both within and without.

Peace.  If ever our world needed peace, it is now.  If ever our own lives needed peace in these confusing and turbulent times, it is now.  Someone once said that peace isn’t the absence of worry or conflict but the ability to stay centered within it.  That is quite an ability, keeping other people’s choices and voices from disrupting our own grounding in Love.

What would it take for you, and me, to stay centered within the whirlwinds of our private lives and the life of this world?  I have developed an unhelpful habit of reaching for my phone first thing in the morning and checking the news.  Nothing like seeking peace when reading about gun violence, the war in Ukraine, and politics in America a I start my day!  This Advent Season, I am putting the phone aside and instead sitting in quiet where, in the inmost chambers of my heart, I envision God’s light shining in and on all the areas of my life and the world’s that need peace.  Practicing peace is both a grounding, a guide, and a gift.  How will you practice it?  I would like to know. Peace be with you.  ~  Rosemary

Peace

You can’t stay there forever, you know,
in that fern glade hidden in the woods
or sitting on the bench under the
golden ginkgo tree where the leaves
spread a silent blanket before you
and you remember, as a child,
the innocence of burying yourself
in them.
You can’t keep to the rippling mountain stream
cascading over velvety moss-covered rocks
white foam spraying thickets
of budding rhododendron
(though you wish you could)
nor can you hide forever on the empty
hilltop with the sun
caressing your face
as spring’s first breath
whispers into your hair.
Oh yes, you would like to stay
because here you are at peace
you are peace
and it’s yours, yours, yours.
But you have a way to go,
a gift to give,
a presence to share.
Now grounded, inhale the ginkgo
the fern the stream the breeze.
Drop them like anchors
into your soul
and go breathe them upon
this heartbroken and turbulent
world
before returning to find your center
again.

(c) Rosemary McMahan

Photo credit: Rosemary McMahan

The Psalms of Advent

“The world is not respectable; it is mortal, tormented, deluded forever; but it is shot through with beauty, with love, with glints of courage and laughter; and in these, the spirit blooms . . .”  George Santayana

The Book of Psalms in the Old Testament of the Bible is a collection of ancient Hebrew poem-songs (written between 3500 and 2500 years ago) that demonstrates the truth of the philosopher Santayana’s description about the world.  Here we find poems that celebrate beauty, nature, creativity, forgiveness, and love and that also include poems that wrestle with lament, grief, confusion, death, hurt, fear, and anger.  No emotion is too big or two small, no feeling too positive or “negative,” for the authors of this book who chose to be honest before Yahweh/God/Allah or whatever word it is we use for the Holy One.  The psalms are a human encounter with the Divine.

During the Season of Advent, a Christian tradition that sets aside the four weeks before December 25 as a time for introspection, preparation, and stillness, and during this “season of light in the darkness” when Hanukkah and Diwali are also observed, the daily scripture readings include a psalm.  Reflecting on these poems or songs about the human heart and its connection with God is a way to keep us rooted in the universal Reality of Love, a love that does not change while the world around us seems to do so every second.  Each psalm, in its own way, becomes a flicker of light and hope in a dark world. Each psalm has a whispered message for us.

Advent is a journey toward the celebration of Love, of welcoming “God-with us” and honoring the “God-in-us,” each one of us.  No matter how you experience the presence of God or a Higher Being, I invite you to join me in reflecting on one word a day from an Advent psalm. 

Blessings ~ Rosemary

Photo credit:  Pixabay

Flint Creek in Autumn

October 16, 2022

For as long as I can remember, Autumn has been a melancholy/bittersweet season for me. Amidst the splendor of the brilliant hues of the dying leaves, there is a sense of time gone by, a memory of mourning something, or someone, that cannot be reclaimed. Yet Autumn also offers each of us a choice: we can either hang on with all our might to what we think defines us, or we can let go and trust the wisdom of this season with its unending offers of possibility as acorns fall to the ground to become trees, and seeds from shriveled flowers waft in the wind. ~ Rosemary

Flint Creek in Autumn

Forrest Gump understood the feather had
a journey to take
drifting through
frame after frame
marking time’s passage.

But the lone leaf I watch
does not. It anchors itself
to the slender elm,
refusing the wind’s
invitation. Just yesterday, its companions let go
cascading
like amber
and scarlet butterflies
down the trail to the mossy green creek.
Some landed on soil some on
dusty picnic tables others remained in damp
clusters stuck
to the muddy red bank while
a few spun away riding the current
past saffron asters, purple thistle
enjoying their last great hurrah!

I wonder at the lone leaf’s
reluctance
to release its hold
when all around has fallen
having no choice
but to become
the change itself
to become the very dust
on the picnic table
or the musty soil
underfoot or the nutrient
that feeds the moss upon the
creek’s red bank.

But not yet.
I will that single leaf to let go
trust the wind
will it to take the journey
down the water below
spinning past aster and thistle
dizzying itself in the current
gazing up at the limbs
that released it
to become itself,
the messenger announcing
the passing of time
frame after frame.

© Rosemary McMahan