Dear friends, 

Last Sunday’s Gospel featured Joseph’s Dream aka honoring the non-rational elements in life. Four times in the Gospels Joseph is portrayed as perceiving the message of God coming to him in a dream. I so admire

Joseph’s sense of wonder, his acute listening to the wisdom of God even in his dreams. God often visits us in our dreams, in our feelings, in our intuitions if only we have the courage, sensitivity and wisdom to honor them—to cherish them for what they have to teach us. What are your dreams? What are they teaching you? Mary, in this Advent time, is often portrayed as pondering all these things in her heart. Our quiet time, our dreaming time, our feelings and intuitions are often a place where God visits us. As Jean and I grow older, we are listening to what we might learn from all these holy places about how we create the next chapter of our life to be. How is God meeting you in your dreams, feelings and intuitions and leading you forward?

John Shea has a wonderful meditation flowing from Joseph’s Dream. In his pastoral imagination, he portrays this conversation between Joseph and Jesus in the carpenter shop:

Remember, Jesus, whatever we’re making, along with it we’re always making a home for Spirit. Your mother thinks a home for Spirit is like an empty cup. But I favor a spacious room with a large window for sun—and a door that is hard to find.

The best way to begin is to clear a space, and the best way to clear a space is to stop the mind from judging. Whenever things seem simple and obvious and the mind is feasting on its certainty and outrage, go slow. There is more than you think, only it hasn’t appeared yet. Judgment stops the appearance of more. It cuts down people and situations to the little you know. It closes possibilities.

Also when you do not judge, you often avoid disgracing another. The law is our measure. It is a tool of judgment, but someone always wields it. Do not use it as a hammer to hit or a saw to cut. Our tools are to fashion a table, not to brutalize the wood. The law is a tool to fashion a people of love, but it can break people and lose its sense of purpose. It always fears life will get out of control. So it wants to make examples of people who break it. It feeds and grows on transgression. It smacks its lips over scandal. But scandal is not the same as real offense. Scandal can be the irruption of God’s love that our feeble minds have yet to understand. So find a way to honor the law and honor the person, who, in our limited understanding has broken it. This is not easy.

It requires making law work for love. Love is the sun; law its furthest and weakest ray. If you hold onto love, you will see how the law can reflect it. If you lose love, law will not substitute for it. It will only be something you use to promote yourself and punish others. When you love the person through the law, you shape the law to the reality that is always more than you know. This gives life a chance to breathe and people a chance to change. And the deepest change will not be in other people, but in yourself. Love takes the beam out of your own eye. It does not focus on the splinters in the eyes of others.

Once something happened and I was tempted to judge and punish. But I held back and waited, and a deeper door opened—the door that is hard to find. I was led into a room of sun, home for Spirit. Your mother and you were there—and a presence of light who talked to my fear. I sensed all distances had been traversed, all separations connected. It was a dream, but it was not sleep. The dream awakened me. It took the beam out of my eye. I saw that making a home for Spirit is an endless adventure—like you growing up, my son.

So see everything twice, Jesus. See it once with the physical eye and then see it again with the eye of the heart. At first glance, you often see an uneven and unusable piece of wood. You may be about to throw it away. But do not be fooled by surface appearances. Look deeper. On second glance, you may see a lovely arm of a chair hidden in its unaccustomed shape. When you see the loveliness, Jesus, embrace it. Take it into your home. Do not hesitate and do not ask questions. Argue with everything, Jesus, but be obedient to love.

The boy listened.

This week we experienced the winter solstice. Jan Richardson has a Blessing for the Longest Night:

Blessing for the Longest Night

All throughout these months
as the shadows
have lengthened,
this blessing has been
gathering itself,
making ready,
preparing for
this night.

It has practiced
walking in the dark,
traveling with
its eyes closed,
feeling its way
by memory
by touch
by the pull of the moon
even as it wanes.

So believe me
when I tell you
this blessing will
reach you
even if you
have not light enough
to read it;
it will find you
even though you cannot
see it coming.

You will know
the moment of its
by your release
of the breath
you have held
so long;
a loosening
of the clenching
in your hands,
of the clutch
around your heart;
a thinning
of the darkness
that had drawn itself
around you.

This blessing
does not mean
to take the night away
but it knows
its hidden roads,
knows the resting spots
along the path,
knows what it means
to travel
in the company
of a friend.

So when
this blessing comes,
take its hand.
Get up.
Set out on the road
you cannot see.

This is the night
when you can trust
that any direction
you go,
you will be walking
toward the dawn.

—Jan Richardson

At The Spirit of Life, our belief in the sacredness of all created beings and loving relationships compels us to respond with care and compassion to all who are marginalized in our church and world. We invite you to come and to pray with us as we “do our own work” in growing into a deeper awareness of our own gifts and ‘growing edges’ and together create a community that invites diversity and honors the uniqueness of each individual and every journey. We are confident that you will feel welcome in the “home” of The Spirit of Life. This Christmas Season and throughout the New Year, we pray Abundant Blessings on you, your loved ones, your dreams and your reaching out to brighten the world of those around you!

With loving blessings,

Ron & Jean