Gratitude for all on our Trail

Thank you for taking this journey with us for Advent in 2019.  We hope you were inspired to take time out of your busy schedule and to reflect on the importance of Advent.  So many of the stories shared with us expressed gratitude, even as the world around them brought unwelcome change, struggles, and courageous journeys of discovery.  I wanted to share this quote with you today:

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.  It turns what we have into enough.  And more.  It turns denial into acceptance.  Chaos to order.  Confusion to clarity.  It can turn a meal into a feast.  A house into a home.  A stranger into a friend.  Gratitude makes sense of our past.  Brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.”    Melody Beattie

If you have thoughts to share with us or would like to contribute to our Lenten Blog, please email me at:  doll.marcie@gmail.com.

 

Our Upcoming Events from the Marble Women’s Ministry:

Women’s Open House/Coffee Hour       January 12th right after church

Spa Day for the Soul                                  February 1st from 9am to 2pm

Women’s Retreat                                        March 6th-8th

 

With much love and gratitude,

Marcie Doll, Curator of the Marble Women’s Ministry Blog

 

 

 

Bit by Bit

Winter Tree

 

I am blessed to live on the Hudson River and look out on a beautiful park filled with glorious trees.  I watch the seasons come and go, buds form, leaves bloom, colors turn, leaves fall until the barrenness arrives.

It always comes as a surprise, stark and surreal those barren branches.  The very same tree that only a few months ago was filled with glory and beauty, was green and alive, is now filled with gaping holes and not a smudge of green to be seen.

In my heart I know this will not be forever.  My task right now is to watch and wait.  To sit patiently near the window and wait as, bit by bit, day by day, the green comes back again.  New buds will form.  New life will emerge.

I must be patient and wait for it because what seems right now to be persistent barrenness will not be that way forever.

Today the hope of a newborn child is born into the world.  Christ comes to bring green to the barren places.  Christ comes to show us the way.  Christ comes to sit with us at the window waiting, watching for the new life that is to come.  Hope has come.  Christ is born to the world.

A blessed Christmas to you all.

Reverend Dr. Elise Brown, Executive Minister, Marble Collegiate Church

 

Make a Trail

Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;  God’s the one who will keep you on track.

Proverbs 3:6

All too often we follow the path that others have set for our lives. As we grow up, our peers tell us how we should dress and how we should act. Our parents tell us where we should go to college and what our major should be. Our employers tell us what our career path should be, and on goes the list of paths others set us on. For too many people, life is about following other people’s paths, not our own.

Against this, I think of the birth of Jesus. We can become so used to hearing the story we easily forget just how surprising it is. An unmarried couple had a baby in a barn, and those who would come to follow this child would go to unexpected places and do miraculous things. In other words, they got off the path everyone else had put them on, and they followed God. One thing is clear: when you follow God, you are guaranteed a spiritual adventure in which you’ll discover how to live more fully into who God created you to be.

I think Ralph Waldo Emerson captured this well when he said, “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” My prayer for us all is that as we encounter God through the birth of Jesus, we will be open to leave our paths and make a trail.

Reverend Dr. Michael Bos, Senior Minister, Marble Collegiate Church

 

 

 

 

Advent or Adventure?

Advent

The arrival of a notable person, thing or event

Waiting, preparation, coming

A coming into place, view, arrival

Anticipation

Something important

One who is awaited

A starting or coming into existence

 

Adventure

Suffix -ure

Forming nouns denoting an action, process, or result

Forming nouns denoting an office or function

Forming nouns denoting a collective

 

Advent is an Adventure

Of waiting

Of preparing

Of coming into view

Of coming into place

Of anticipation

Of something important

Of arrival of a notable person

Of arrival of a notable event

Of coming into existence

Of starting

An action

A process

A result

A function

That forms a collective.

 

What’s your definition of the Adventure of Advent?

Mary Window

 

Shared by Susan Ceeley Phillips

Follow the Trail: Don’t Mess with the Road Map

It was a snowy afternoon in New York City, and once again I was almost late for a meeting at Marble Collegiate Church; it didn’t help that I was scheduled to chair. So, of course, I took a taxi. Destination reached, I paid the driver and headed into the meeting. All went well, until I reached for my wallet just before leaving, and it wasn’t there.  A colleague helped me search the area where we had been meeting and the space just outside; no dice. It was nowhere to be found. Back home, I called the church to check whether anything had been turned in and the gentleman who had helped me search was at the desk. He told me his own story of a similar loss and shared how he had immediately begun to pray, working to put the entire situation in God’s hands. I wasn’t in the mood at that moment, but I did listen and heard the trust and faith in his voice, as he finished the story, where in the most unlikely of circumstances, he was able to reclaim his lost article. His story stayed with me, as a gentle reminder.

in addition to closing all my cards, I started the laborious process of reporting the loss. I resisted briefly, embarrassed at my own absent-mindedness, but there was nothing to do but to take the first step. So, I called 311, the help line for all things municipal and went through the slow and painstaking process of making the report. It seemed to take forever. But the next afternoon, there was a message from the Taxi and Limousine Commission asking me to call them to answer more questions. It all seemed so useless, but I called and answered still more questions always with more info to pin point time, location et al. Later that day, I got an email back that included license numbers and cell numbers of two possible drivers. It all seemed so unlikely to me, but I did pick the driver whose name was a probable match for the nationality I had intuited, called and left a message that was as specific, detailed and nonthreatening/accusatory as possible. I never got a call back. So, I surrendered, and went on with my life.

Several days later,  my friend from the church asked about the wallet. “Nope, nada,” I said. He had a lovely response suggesting that if it was needed by someone else God could be trusted to make that happen. I actually took comfort in that and felt that I had surrendered. Wallet shopping ensued, and then last night, as I was getting on the elevator  and the door was closing, I heard the intercom go off in my apartment down the hall. I stopped at the desk to find out what was up. The door person said “Someone left this for you; put out your hand.”  He placed the wallet into my hand. All money and all cards perfectly intact. So 9 days after I left the phone message, the wallet was returned.

To me this was a City Trail experience. I had to take each little step; and even though I wasn’t exactly in a prayerful frame of mind about the incident, I was graced with the willingness to listen to someone who was, so prayer partnering was there for me, even though my heart was only open a crack. And then a Christmas surprise was handed to me. So I want to remember to bring prayer into the daily routines of my life, not to get a certain outcome, but to open myself to God’s being a part of the process. If I stay open and true to that idea, I might be available to help the next traveler I meet who is walking through a tough or lonely trail journey.

Shared by Karen Gourgey

Afternoon Bonus: Excess Baggage

Like many others, I’m doing a lot of traveling this holiday season.  At the check-in kiosk, I notice another traveler trying to pare down the contents of her luggage to avoid fees for an extra carry on and overweight luggage.  One pile was for the garbage. I noticed a couple of books and an old sweater. My first thought was it’s a shame there are not donation bins at airport check-in counters. My next thought was about the journey of life and the extra baggage that we carry.

What extra baggage am I carrying?

A trunk of unforgiveness?

A weekender of regrets and discontent?

A backpack stuffed with judgment and perfectionism?

There may not be a monetary fee for carrying this extra baggage, but there is most definitely a cost to doing so. A cost to our emotional, mental, spiritual and physical well-being as well as to our relationships with others.  I’m praying that God shows me the extra baggage that I carry and helps me to put it down. May we all travel light this Advent season.

 

Patricia Wu

Doing Less and Being More

 
I was so excited when I figured out that I could retire this year.  Even though I loved my work, the daily grind of commuting over 2 hours to and from Queens every day was becoming too taxing on me. Once I retired, I set out the ambitious goal of co-creating the next chapter of my life with God.  I decided that I would spend at least one hour each day, journaling, meditating, and praying to find meaningful activities that nourish my soul. But first, I wanted to have fun.  I enjoyed traveling, hiking, Salsa dancing, and walking over 10,000 steps a day.  And I forgot about my goal. I forgot that my retirement is a gift from God and that what I do with that gift is my gift to God. I was having too much fun. 
 
God has a gentle way of bringing me back to him.  After one of my hikes, I felt pain on my right knee.  Interesting, I thought. I ignored it and still went dancing, and running up and down the stairs.  Then all of sudden, I could not do any stairs, let alone Salsa dancing.  I could not even walk without pain. I got a fancy dx, patellofemoral pain syndrome (pps). I thought I could do some physical therapy and go back to dancing. But no, God had another plan. My knee pain did not go away and forced me to slow down. I realized that whether we’re working or retired, we tend to do too much. We want to fill the gap with activities, socializing, meetings, binge-watching Netflix, or whatever. I need to do less and just be.  So that I can hear God. So that I can experience the presence of God. So that I can excitedly wait for the birth of Jesus. So that I can write this blog. So that I can create the time to meditate, to journal, and to pray. So that I can have dates with God. God and I will walk in hand in hand on this Avent trail to create the next chapter of my life. I love you God. 
 
Sooknam Choo