Comfort and Joy

I have heard it said that there are “Easter Christians” and “Christmas Christians”—people who prefer one holiday over the other. While I certainly like Christmas, I’ve always been more of an Easter Christian, but I’ll save explaining why for another blog.

Like so many others, I spent this past Easter in lockdown, and truth be told, the year didn’t get much better from there. Actually, it got worse. Now, don’t get me wrong. There’s no question that I have “Cadillac” problems. My challenges are small compared to the tragedy, loss and struggle that so many of our sisters and brothers have gone through and are still contending with this year. But the fact remains that I am looking forward to the end of 2020. I know that I’m not alone in this. I can’t think of anyone I’ve spoken to recently who won’t be happy to kiss this year goodbye.

So, this year, I most definitely feel more like a Christmas Christian! Since before the first Sunday of Advent, I have been eagerly anticipating the season. I need a reason to be hopeful. In the depths of my inner self, I long for the promise of the nativity—peace on Earth and God With Us. I want to celebrate and be exuberant with JOY! I need God to comfort the child within me. Do you know what I mean?

Because of this, I have started a simple contemplative practice that I want to invite you to try. It only takes 5 or 10 minutes and everyone, no matter how busy, can carve out 5 minutes once a week or once a day to let God come into their heart, right?

Find somewhere quiet—sitting in your bedroom, on a patio or in a garden, or walking in the woods or in your neighborhood at a peaceful time of day—and call to mind a favorite image of God’s love. It could be anything—the Holy Family in the manger, Christ the Good Shepherd carrying home his lost lamb, the 23rd Psalm. Don’t work, but rather allow yourself to settle down and fall into God’s embrace. Your intention to simply be with the Beloved is enough. Put yourself in the picture with all your senses and creativity. Invite the Holy Spirit to visit with you. Be the lamb on Jesus’ shoulders, riding gently as He strides through the beautiful countryside, looking out in security from your perch of ultimate safety without a care in the world. Imagine yourself reclining on the breast of Jesus at the last supper like St. John the apostle, hearing His heartbeat, feeling His chest rise and fall beneath your cheek, looking up into His face. I had a vision once years ago while praying the rosary in front of the Blessed Sacrament in which I was a small child again and Jesus was holding me by my hands, swinging me around in circles above the grass in the sunshine as parents often do with their children. We were both laughing and radiant with joy. That’s the image that I’m meditating on this Advent season. I encourage you to give yourself, especially the little child within you, this simple Christmas gift. God is waiting for you there.

With heartfelt blessings for comfort, joy and a peaceful 2021.
Love,
Jack

 

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