Dear Friends,

We hope that each of you experienced a blessed and grace-filled Christmas, and that as we approach the coming of a new year, your spirit is ready for its unfolding. That’s a tall order for many of us, I suspect. In my work as a grief counselor I long ago learned that New Year’s Eve can be an especially difficult time for persons who are grieving, as well as for many who find the transition from ‘last year’ to a ‘new year’ emotionally challenging. Often this is because of all that the year we are saying farewell to held….the joys and sorrows are ‘familiar’ and we’ve learned to ‘hold’ them.

What this new year will bring remains mystery, and its uncertainty can be unsettling. Undoubtedly, each of us has a dream for 2012. Some dreams may be very personal, perhaps for health and healing, other dreams may be more universal or global, for peace in the world, for an end to violence in our streets and across the globe. Many of these dreams are in our thoughts as we plan for Saturday’s “Alternative New Year’s Eve” Celebration, and as we reflected on the song “Dreams are More precious” on Enya’s “And Winter Came” CD….it led us to ponder the tremendous blessing we have in the gift of imagination and the capacity to dream! We hope it’s tender message will be a blessing to you as the new year unfolds.

Dreams Are More Precious

Come! See! High above * Come! See! High in the heavens
a new star shining bright * Come! Hear bells that are ringing
and from some distant shore * sounds of a journey echo on

This is the night * they say * everyone wants a dream
This is the night * they say * nothing is as it seems

Come! Sleep! Close your eyes * Come! Sleep! Give me your sorrow
and I’ll keep watch for you * until the dawn is breaking through * until the morning wakens you
Come! Dream through the night * Come! Dream, and then tomorrow
you’ll see your heart will know * dreams are more precious than gold
Dreams are more precious than gold * dreams are more precious than gold

We wish you peace and dreams fulfilled in the year ahead. We welcome you to come and join us for our “Alternative New Year’s Eve” where we will all do a bit of dreaming together.

Blessings in this time of new beginnings,

Jean & Ron

Dear Friends,

A Happy and Holy Christmas to You! Our theme line comes from Meister Eckhart who inspires us: "We are all meant to be mothers of God, for God is always needing to be born." What a wonderful mission for us: to give birth to God in our world today. We as The Spirit of Life Community try to give God birth with a face of justice and joy! This Advent Oscar Romero has guided our path with his advent homilies. On Christmas Eve, he writes:

"We must not seek the child Jesus in the pretty figures of our Christmas cribs.

We must see him among the undernourished children who have gone to bed with nothing to eat,

among the poor newsboys who will sleep covered with newspapers in doorways. December 24, 1979

I am recovering quite remarkably well from knee replacement surgery. I am most grateful for the healing energy you are sending my way: that is wrapping me in God's love and strength and comforting me in the quiet and in the painful moments of rehab. I hope to be back with the gathered community for our "alternative New Year's Eve:" our prayerful, twilight retreat and Eucharist as we ponder how God is moving among us as one year finishes and another abundant year of God's blessings begins. I also want to thank all of you who have expressed sympathy on the sudden death of my brother Tom. This community of support is truly comforting to Jean and me.

This is the prayerful blessing that Jean and I send to you this Christmas:

May the Angel of Annunciation awaken in you

God's profound heartfelt love.

May your dreams lead you to profound reverence

as you bow before the Divine born in the stable of every heart.

May Mary guide you in birthing the Holy One in your life

and in birthing Love in others.

May Joseph engage you in deeper questioning and listening

and give you courage to risk the next step.

May your life become a Luminous Presence

leading others to the place in their hearts and in the world

where Christ is always being born anew.

May you have the Spirit of Christmas which is Peace.

The Joy of Christmas which is Hope.

The Heart of Christmas which is Love.

The poem originates with CSJ Ministry of the Arts.

In these Christmas days we send you our love and feel encircled by yours in return, We wish you many blessings!

Ron and Jean

Dear Friends,

How is your time of "holy impatience" evolving this Advent? Our growth in "holy impatience" has been deepened by our mindfulness of Occupy Boston, and the invitation to preside at liturgy for the movement this Sunday. While the "official Occupation" is no longer present in Dewey Square, we will be there tomorrow (at 11:00AM) to honor their efforts and celebrate that the Spirit is very much present in our City. We've been impressed with the insightfulness of the organizers of this movement, and while many have criticized their "lack of a clear agenda", their model of inclusive leadership is one which, while differing from corporate America and surely differing from the institutional church's (or Magisterium's) model offers the possibility of finding 'common ground' using a 'cooperation vs. competition' model of organization. A novel imagining! Part of our "holy impatience" is reflected well in this excerpt from a letter written to Mayor Menino, the Boston City Council and the Police Department by faith leaders in the Boston area: "We find ourselves, by nature of our work and our vocation, very much in accord with the Occupy cause. They are drawing much-needed attention to the ever-widening disparity between wealthy elites and the majority of citizens. At the last census, nearly 1 in 5 Bostonians were found to be living in poverty[1], with vastly higher poverty rates among people of color[2].Our experience confirms these statistics. In our food programs, in our shelters, among our parishioners and congregations, we see sharply increased hunger and unemployment. We daily watch as people fall into poverty and become disenfranchised.... The poverty, homelessness, and increasing desperation of our neighbors present a challenge to us all. While these struggles are not easy problems to address, two things are clear: we will only find positive solutions if we work together, and violence against the protesters is no solution. As leaders of faith, we urge you to seek a course that furthers justice and wholeness for all people. In this, we stand as one.

If your schedule allows, we hope that you will join us in downtown at Dewey Square (11:00AM) for this time of prayer of solidarity. (We will, of course, also be celebrating with the Community at 4:00PM as usual, including a Communal Penance Service.) As we have been doing throughout Advent, during our liturgies, we continue sharing excerpts from the Advent homilies of El Salvadoran bishop and martyr, Oscar Romero. Romero's richness of thought and motivation for action, his understanding of the plight of those who are poor and suffer injustice, offer us both hope and guidance as we work for justice in our own land and in our world. This Sunday, we share the words Romero spoke on December 17, 1978.

Advent Homily of Oscar Romero:

I invite you this week, in this hour when our country seems to have no place for joy, to listen to St. Paul repeat to us: "Be always joyful. Be constant in prayer. In every circumstance give thanks. This is God's plan for you in Christ Jesus." ( I Thess. 5:16-17). The Christian, the Christian community must not despair. If someone dies in the family, we must not weep like people without hope. If the skies have darkened in our nation's history, let us not lose hope. We are a community of hope, and like the Israelites in Babylon, let hope for the hour of liberation. It will come. It will come because God is faithful, says St. Paul. This joy must be like a prayer. God who called you is faithful," and God will keep what God has promised. (December 17, 1978)

We pray that this sacred season is bringing you more deeply into a place of rejuvenation of faith, and an awareness that Jesus is "Present" in every aspect of our lives, longing for us to seek and find the Light within.

Reminder: Our liturgy will be held at 4:00PM during the remainder of Fall and Winter months.

Advent Blessings,

Jean & Ron

Dear Friends,

Many of you may not be aware of how 'radically' our final weeks of Advent have taken shape. This past week we traveled to Philadelphia to mourn and to celebrate Ron's 68 year old brother Tom, who died of a heart attack a week ago. Tom's death was a shock, and it's 'unimaginable' nature pulled our energy away from the "anticipation' aspect of Advent and into the eschatological space of mourning. We emerged from this very meaning-full time of remembrance to settle into the hospital for Ron's much needed, but 'not-anticipated-at-this-time', knee replacement surgery. It seems just when we think we have life 'under control' it throws us a curve. If Ron and I feel this unsettled as 'seasoned' adults, imagine how the young Mary felt with the 'unanticipated' visit of an angel, and the request to let God enter into her life in such an unanticipated way.

Just as we expect that Mary was uplifted by the kind and insightful words of her cousin, Elizabeth, and by Joseph's continuing 'holding' of her, so have we found hope and strength in well wishes from those aware of our recent life events. The love and care extended to us is a manifestation of God's love in our lives. You are embodying God's love and we are profoundly strengthened by your 'presence'.

As we continue our reflection on the words of Oscar Romero during this Advent season, his words of early December 1978 speak powerfully to us today:

"Some want to keep a gospel so disembodied that it doesn't get involved at all in the world it must save.

Christ is now in history.

Christ is in the womb of the people.

Christ is now bringing about the new heaven and the new earth." (December 3, 1978)

"Christ is in the womb of the people." What does it mean for us as a people to be the "womb of Christ"? A womb is the place where life begins and is nurtured and nourished. How are we nurturing and nourishing Christ into life in our world today?

We pray that this sacred season is bringing you more deeply into a place of rejuvenation of faith, and an awareness that we are called to "embody" Christ in our lives.

Reminder: Our liturgy will be held at 4:00PM during the remainder of Fall and Winter months.

Wishing you peace and joy in this final Advent week.

Jean & Ron

Dear Friends,

Advent is one of our favorite times of year! The meditative pace, contrasting with the world's quickened and sometimes frantic pace of Christmas preparations....the watching and waiting, not for Santa, but for a deepening connection with the Divine within, the contemplative reinforcing our bearings—reminding us that we are a people called to "be Light". Advent is a "pregnant time", a time to wonder about mystery and new life, a time to imagine living more fully, more deeply in God's presence. A time to become and to birth God's Presence in our world.

In a series of sermons, the El Salvadoran bishop and martyr, Oscar Romero, offered a richness of thought and motivation for action on the theme of Advent. We will share some of his wisdom and insights with you during these Advent weeks, and begin with these words he spoke on December 3, 1978.

Advent is not just four weeks

in which to prepare for Christmas.

Advent is the church's life.

Advent is Christ's presence...

and will bring about God's true reign,

telling us, humanity, that Isaiah's prophecy

is now fulfilled:

Emmanuel – God with us.

Advent should admonish us to discover

in each brother or sister that we greet,

in each friend whose hand we shake,

in each beggar who asks for bread,

in each worker who wants to use the right to join a union,

in each peasant who looks for work in the coffee groves,

the face of Christ.

Then it would not be possible to rob them,

to cheat them,

to deny them their rights.

They are Christ,

and whatever is done to them

Christ will take as done to himself.

This is what Advent is:

Christ living among us.

** Archbishop Oscar Romero ** December 3, 1978

As we enter into this sacred season, we pray that you might 'meet' Jesus the Christ in a new and deeper way in your life and in those whose lives intersect with yours. May you be blessed in this time of waiting with a 'holy impatience' to become Advent in the lives of others.

We invite you to join The Spirit of Life Community as we gather for an Advent Twilight Retreat, "Pregnant with Mystery" on Saturday, December 3rd from 3:00-7:00PM at The Hospitality House, 18 Guild Road, Dedham, MA 02026. (Please NOTE that this is NOT held at the church in Weston) All are welcome!!

Reminder: Our liturgy will be held at 4:00PM during the remainder of Fall and Winter months.

Advent Blessings,

Jean & Ron