Mel's Healing Pilgrimage 2016

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

Thursday, December 19, 2019

O Little Laundrymat of Bethlehem

Last night at Laundry Love, I had it easier than normal, as I got assigned an aisle that had fewer washing machines. Over the course of the two hours, I helped out Gigi, Tanya, Randy, Shamika, and Dray. Gigi had her many bags of laundry as usual. Randy needed an extra machine than usual. Dray again had his stuffed in his suitcase and a gym bag.

Because it was quieter for me, I got more chances to chit chat with our guests, our friends. There was the usual "Oh they have Christmas brownies!" and "It's so cold, but not like Michigan" sort of conversations, as well as helping some of the kids play hide and seek. And then there's the simpler stuff.

Mary handed out Christmas cards. She thought that it'd be nice to give our friends cards so she got her church to donate for both lovely cards as well as a small gift card. It was really a nice way to say that we're all friends and family. We all see each other every month doing laundry, so we are in many ways spending more time physically, presently, and intimately "together" than we can do in social media.

I was there when Mary gave a card to Dray. She smiled and laughed as she did so, wishing him a Merry Christmas, before moving on to other guests. I watched as he turned the envelope over this way, then that way, quietly looking at the pretty envelope before opening it, carefully, making sure not to tear the card inside. Then he broke his silence.

"It's so nice that I get a Christmas card this year."

I looked at his face rather than his hands at that point, and he was clearly touched. "This year?", I thought. "This year?" Images of the cards we've been getting the past couple weeks flashed through my head. And when he pulled the card out he smiled a wide grin that said so much more than I could say here. And he was more than surprised to see the gift card, saying "Oh that's so nice. So nice."

Doing Laundry Love always has lovely moments, and I cherish them. But last night, I felt the tears flow down my face. And when Mary walked towards me again a few minutes later, I shared with her what had happened. And we hugged.

No gift is too small. No present is complete without our presence. Every slip of paper, every smile, every gesture can touch someone in ways we might never expect. Those surprises don't have to be only on Christmas. The gifts of love we share this time of year are just reminders. Love is present and manifest in our lives every day, every moment. We are awash in love. We just forget it most of the time.

May this Advent, this waiting for the gift of limitless love, wash over you, surprise you, touch you. Let your life and actions be tiny little Christmas cards to everyone you meet.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Advent reflection: Enter and Share

I saw a lovely commercial this week that uses Christmas as part of the story. It's a 2016 Polish advertisement for a company that teaches English

"English for Beginners"

It's a wonderful tear-jerker of an ad with more than a few jokes. Even the stronger language moment got a laugh because of the charming main character, Robert.

It got me to appreciate Advent a little bit more, as well. For during this season, we are starting to sit and think about Christmas, about what was happening with Mary and Joseph, their fears and trials, their confidence and trust. And most of all we await the coming a little baby, Jesus, who will change our lives forever.

Are we ready? Have we taken all the steps necessary? Are we ready to take some risks?

This commercial shows someone who prepared, someone who got ready, someone who took a risk regardless of his age.

He wanted to enter another person's world. To be present in that world, foreign as it might be. And he wanted that world drawn closer to himself. So he needed to talk, break bread, offer wine, share stories. Stories of our roots, of where we came from, of our dreams, of our love.

It's a good reminder to me that Christ will be coming soon, to be present with us, incarnate among us, all of us, in our world, living as one of us. So share stories in Christ's name. Share stories of our roots. Share stories of where we come from. Share stories of our dreams, our love, our Christmas together.