In the Bleak Midwinter

For so many, the darkest days of the year that lead up to December 21st, the first day of winter are bleak.  Last night, I watched coverage about a massive snow storm in Romania and the rainy weekend the Northeast endured where many are wondering when the rain will end.

My Sunday was spent in the Minneapolis, Minnesota area shopping with a friend, laughing all the way and attending a wonderful children’s Christmas Concert at a local church.   The children sang their hearts out!  And then there were the angels.  Oh! How they lit up the stage in their wings and waved to the audience of family and friends.  Exactly what our angels are supposed to do in our lives, make us feel like we are valuable and protected.

On our drive back to my hotel, I kind of forgot the bleakness I oftentimes see this week of darkness.  It was strangely a spectacularly beautiful day here in the Twin Cities with a balmy temperature of 48 degrees.  And the sunset had some of the most fabulous colors I have seen in the week leading up to the shortest day of the year.  Hoping that you have one of those days soon!

So, if you have one of those bleak midwinter days, listen to this.  Susan Boyle’s voice somehow makes the day better.

Listen to Susan Boyle singing “In the Bleak Midwinter.”

1. In the bleak mid-winter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
Long ago.

2. Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him
Nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away
When He comes to reign:
In the bleak mid-winter
A stable-place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty,
Jesus Christ.

3. Enough for Him, whom cherubim
Worship night and day,
A breastful of milk
And a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels
Fall down before,
The ox and ass and camel
Which adore.

4. Angels and archangels
May have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim
Thronged the air,
But only His mother
In her maiden bliss,
Worshiped the Beloved
With a kiss.

5. What can I give Him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would bring a lamb,
If I were a wise man
I would do my part,
Yet what I can I give Him,
Give my heart.

Shared by Marcie Doll

Day 12: Some thoughts from Henri Nouwen

As Advent is amongst us, may we, as children of God, run with joy to unwrap our gifts of the Spirit, praying, playing, living boldly in Christ’s love. The following is a compilation of thoughts on courage from one of my favorite theologians, Henri Nouwen. Enjoy! – Patrice Donnell

On Courage:

“Have courage,” we often say to one another.  Courage is a spiritual virtue.  The word courage comes from the Latin word cor, which means “heart. A courageous act is an act coming from the heart. A courageous word is a word arising from the heart. The heart, however, is not just the place where our emotions are located. The heart is the centre of our being, the centre of all thoughts, feelings, passions, and decisions.”

On Solitude:

“To live a spiritual life we must first find the courage to enter into the desert of our loneliness and to change it by gentle and persistent efforts into a garden of solitude. The movement from loneliness to solitude, however, is the beginning of any spiritual life because it it is the movement from the restless senses to the restful spirit, from the outward-reaching cravings to the inward-reaching search, from the fearful clinging to the fearless play.”

On Spiritual Risk:

“Courage is connected with taking risks. Jumping the Grand Canyon on a motorbike, coming over Niagara Falls in a barrel, or crossing the ocean in a rowboat are called courageous acts because people risk their lives by doing these things. But none of these daredevil acts comes from the centre of our being. They all come from the desire to test our physical limits and to become famous and popular.

Spiritual courage is something completely different. It is following the deepest desires of our hearts at the risk of losing fame and popularity. It asks of us the willingness to lose our temporal lives in order to gain eternal life.”

On Challenges:

“Lord, give us patience so that we may truly see obstacles as doors, the “not-quite-rights” of life as a foundation, our sufferings and indifference as eventual gateways to good works, to diligent service, and to our inheritance of salvation. Make the challenges on our spiritual journey into opportunities to say “yes” to your love. Amen.”

– Henri Nouwen

Day 10: Finding our Forgotten Gifts, So We Can Use Them

Shared by Karen Gourgey

Advent, especially for children is a time of expectation, expectation of what, we don’t know, but it’s fascinating, a little mysterious, and even for adults, in our heart of hearts, are we maybe still looking for something magic, a miracle, something that will change things and make everything good. But what if that “miracle”, or at least its mustard seed, is closer than we think.

Full disclosure, I’m totally blind, and as a program director, I’ve had a reasonablely-sized office, (to be truthful, I’ve been in that office for the past 23 years).   And, the shelves across from my large u-shaped desk hint at our history and do include some awards I’ve received over the years.

So, two weeks ago, I wrote to the Chief Accessibility Officer of a very substantial corporation in Redmond, WA, and invited her to keynote our annual conference in April 2018.  It turns out they have a process for people who are sending such invites, so I dutifully filled out their questionnaire.The final question asked whether we had had any previous collaboration with the corporation. I wracked my brain thinking back over the past 5 or 7 years, and eventually, I had to say no.

Exactly one week after I made the submission, I was visited by a colleague now a salesman for a simple but astounding new product called AIRA.

It’s an iPhone app combined with Google type glasses, with their tiny video camera  and a trained agent. As a blind person, you essentially call up the agent, and the agent answers any question you might have. So my salesman colleague asked the agent to describe what she saw around my office. She said, “Wow, I see a lot of awards; there’s a really nice, I think it’s a globe;” and she asked me to move it, so she could get a better view. My heart must have skipped about 30 beats, because I immediately connected with what she was talking about.  I had completely forgotten about a beautiful little globe that’s been sitting on my shelf since 2005.  It was an award that Microsoft had given to us and a partner organization, for an invention known as the “Talking Tactile Tablet.

The globe says “Technology Benefitting Humanity”.  Although the Tablet was patented in 2006, it was soon superceded by a new piece of tech that accomplished the same objective more cheaply and efficiently.  I had stopped valuing it, because of this change. Our partners stopped manufacturing it.

At least two lessons stay with me from all this, and I believe they apply to people whether we have physical sight or not.  First, we get so caught up in the things of the moment, the here and now , that we forget gifts that might be within us that might be useful in ways we never dreamed.

Second, I devalued and practically disowned all that work that went into the Talking Tactile Tablet and the concepts behind it. Those concepts were given a huge step forward because of our work and they are continually being used today.

So, during Advent, maybe I need to pay a lot more attention to the gifts I might have to offer that I may have cast aside or stopped valuing and being grateful for.

 

Here is a picture of the globe:

Globe

 

Welcome to the 2015 Advent Blog!

Are you ready for Advent?  

In a few days, we will arrive at the first Sunday in Advent.  We wanted to welcome to the Marble Women’s Ministry Advent Daily Message Blog–which will start back on Sunday, November 29th.

Our goal is to Transform your Advent Experience.

This blog will give you the opportunity to take a time-out from the busy secular side of the season and reconnect with the transformative power of the sacred Advent Story. The Marble Women’s Ministry  and some Special Guests will share reflections, stories, recipes, and advice to help you find moments of grace this Advent. We all need to be blessed by the work of Advent in our lives, so please join us and see the Grace, Love and Transformation to which God intended Advent to be.

While you are sleeping, a daily blog post will appear and it may be the best way to center, focus, and remember each morning and experience Advent, the way God intended it to be.  A season of expectation….

Some housekeeping to help you receive and follow the Advent Blog:

  1.  There is an App that you can download from the iTunes, Android, Blackberry and Windows stores.  Turn on notifications and you will receive a little buzz on your Smartphone or Tablet.
  2. We welcome you to actively participate!  If you see something you like or a post that inspires you, click the heart and better yet, add a comment to make the blog more interactive.  Last year, many people responded to posts that so thoughtfully added to the blog.
  3. Send the link for your Friends and Family around the globe to join.  Last year we had over 600 participants and help the word get out that our Advent Experience Matters and Transforms.

We wish you a Blessed Advent Season!