Happy 2014!

“People with a meagre soul always try to make others feel small too, and the stranger, who could probably conceal his on the head of a pin, gave me his most disdainful look.”

-from The Prisoner of Heaven, by Carlos Ruiz Zafón.

I read Zafón’s book on Christmas day (I highly recommend it!) and this was the one passage I will never forget. Haven’t we all come across such a soul? A person that just wanted to put you down and make you feel unimportant, invisible or incapable of measuring up?

Well, enough of that.

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A special installation piece by yours truly, from Buhay Makulay’s LIKHA exhibit. Medium: Japanese paper collage on glass jars by our children and volunteers & found objects.

Something tells me that 2014 is going to be a breakthrough year. In all the adventures that lie ahead, may this year be one of uplifting others and building up one another.

May our souls be generous, and hopefully larger than a head of a pin. So large that ego, hatred, or jealousy have no room. Let the light of others shine. And if given the opportunity, be the one that holds them up for all to see.

Merry Christmas!

Christmas snuck up on me again!

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Our Aritao tree on Christmas eve!

Today is one of my favorite days of the year. Christmas day may be one of the few that I leave unplanned,  no to-do list, no agenda, and no expectations. After a late night of hanging out with the family, eating ham, sipping wine and opening presents, a sweetly lit Christmas eve is followed by a day at home, taking a real day off.

Very late this morning, I woke up my favorite way: slowly. Through my bedroom window I was greeted by a lovely view – a crisp clear blue behind this brilliant white. I thought I may have woken up to snow covered mountains, and not the low, fluffy white clouds that eased me out of bed. With sleep still in my eyes I snapped a photo that doesn’t do it justice:

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Around Christmastime, the world has been inclined to suffer some of its heaviest hits, this year and in years past – be it from natural disaster like a supertyphoon, from discord between nations or families, or violence both intentional or accidental. These experiences cut even more pain when held in the light of celebration and the desire for peace.

Despite the darkness and ruin that overcomes so many, hope endures. Victims of Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda spend this season very differently from the last, a long way down from their expectations of Christmas cheer. Despite promises of local organizations, not all families have had their electricity  reconnected since the storm, spending the holidays steeped in darkness. Many still clutch the gaping hole of loss -their first Christmas without a father, or without a home of their own. A night is haunted by nightmares of the savage flooding, and the daytime is not large enough to get lost in. Too many still survive in conditions that defy even the most basic of human needs. During this season of plenty, we cannot forget those that have little.

These people are not alone in their grief. All over the world are people sinking in their sorrow. All over the world, we must hail their resilience. There is no other way.

On Christmas Sunday, I had the privilege of leading the Prayers of the People. Portions of it, I share with you today. And if you would so wish, pray this prayer with me today: 

Dear Father, 

We come to You today with thanksgiving in our hearts, with worship for You on our lips, and hope rising among us.

You are our light through all season, through all generations. We are in awe of You.

We fall short of Your glory and acknowledge our wrongdoings, our hardened hearts and our eyes that have turned away from You. We are sorry.

Thank You for the coming of Jesus, for the joy of the advent season, waiting patiently and expectantly for You. 

We lift up to You the families represented in our church. Whether the holidays are spent in loud cheer or silently in our hearts, whether our table sits three generations or just You Jesus, and us – bring joy to all our homes, big and small, in plenty and in little, here and abroad. We invite You in. We celebrate You. 

We remember those all over the world, and right in our city, struck by tragedy, loss, sickness, natural disaster, injustice, depression, hatred, hunger or pain.

May the light of Your presence this Christmas push out every darkness, soothe every aching heart, every tearful child, or every family that has lost their hope. 

Bring your provision and joy to their place of need. Satisfy their hungry hearts. Satisfy our hungry hearts. Lastly, may Your Light, the Light that Jesus brings, shine the brightest of all the Christmas.

Amen. 

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Nothing lights up this season and every season, like the King born in a manger. Family and friends, thank you for being messengers of this light too – for your generosity of company, word, gift or smile – blessings on you! Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, Merry Christmas!

Truth Thursdays: Today I Leave Behind

Today I leave behind light.

Not because I will walk ahead without it, but because in my own journey forward, my path has been made bright by the lights that others have left behind. These gifts of illumination have made my own path full of joy, encouragement, challenge, inspiration and purpose.

So I too leave behind a glowing trail. Though shifting in its luminescence and never perfect in direction, I leave it nonetheless. There are moments of blazing fire and others of just barely glowing coal. This trail may light the path of many or none at all. Or for a heartbeat, bring company to a single lone traveler.

There is enough darkness in this world. Real, tangible, destructive darkness. It weeps only wretchedness. It is ferocious and deceitful. It eats away at the good stuff in this world.

But it quivers in the light.

And in the presence of light, the darkness is a coward.

And still,

there are those who can walk in the company of darkness,

unafraid and unhesitating because light also lives within. 

Today I leave behind light, not because there is no more light to lead forward, nor because I set my lantern down to walk into the dim. It is Light itself that I follow. Radiance that is not of me.

The embers that persist in my wake may one day lead someone Home.

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No light for miles around. Just friends and a bonfire on a beach. San Francisco coast. March 2013.

More about Truth Thursdays? Or more about this prompt.