Mel's Healing Pilgrimage 2016

Links to the Camino de Santiago pilgrimages are on the navigation links to the right of the web page.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Christmas break

I haven't taken down my tree or decorations. I certainly haven't put away the nativity scene. After all, the magi haven't even gotten to the manger yet; they're still sitting on the other end of the mantle working their way to babe.

No, Christmas still moves joyfully towards Epiphany on January 6. It's still Christmas break! I relish this season and don't want it to end. I love that the "Twelve Days of Christmas" is sung out at this time because it means the one day of joy isn't merely the commercialized behemoth defining Christmas. We celebrate the season liturgically because it's supposed to be remembered and celebrated.

When we were in Egypt three years ago, our Coptic tour guide in Cairo asked us what did we do before Christmas. We told him we shopped and had parties. He was frankly quite surprised. Coptic Christians fasted throughout Advent ending on the day they celebrate Christmas. That date happens to be January 6, which is our Epiphany. They are basically vegan throughout Advent and have nothing remotely similar to our abundant celebrations until Christmas itself.

Since that time, I thought of this often. I know my Advent has toned down dramatically since that trip. Fasting is a physical trial that affects your behavior and mind. People who fast before Christmas are obviously serious about waiting for the Christ child in reflection and repentance. And, when Christmas is celebrated, the feasting is a release, a joy, a sharing of abundance that marks any end of a fast.

So yes, I'm still celebrating Christmas. I had a wonderful weekly tour of the Creation by driving through California. We saw blowing beaches, sleeping elephant seals, floating kites, the extreme rich, soaring redwoods, the homeless, walkable villages, and squishy jellyfish. What a wonderful way to celebrate the babe Jesus! Creation celebrated by Christians focuses on human creation, but Jesus came to earth to walk on the earth, swim in its waters, pray on the streets.

We explored California to see nature in all of its glory. By celebrating the beauty of all Creation, it was much easier to pray on the beauty of Jesus brought to us as an infant.

So yes, the fast is over. Let us enjoy the Christmas break by breaking bread with each other and work towards a world where we recognize every day the incarnation of God's beauty all around us.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

My New Year's Prayer

You smile as an infant grasps your finger tight
And you smile at the promise of her life
At the hope of a life fulfilled, a joy incarnate

May we discover that we all are God's children
Full of promise, of hope, of life, of joy
That we are loved with a nurturing smile

May we be the strength and shoulder
To those needing our care and loving hands
Opening their eyes to the joy inside

Grant us the courage to be washed of our old ways
Creating a life this year filled with confidence and strength
Fed and held by powerful hands that carry us on our journey

Because to start the year anew
Means accepting with childlike wonder and trust
The hand that offers unconditional love