Desert of Doubts

As we wind our way through the final days of Advent, it may seem like a weird time to enter into a desert of doubt. Christmas is almost here! But I wonder as we wander our way to the manger, how at times doubt can stretch our faith into new ways of thinking and believing.

Here’s a quote from one of my favorite spiritual writers that makes the point (much better than me!)

“When we enter the desert of doubts, let us stop and pause and understand that we are on a pilgrimage. This moves our soul and our hearts ever closer to God. And that strange mystery, of believing when there is nothing to believe in, is the key to complete trust in God and the dissolution of doubt.” Catherine Doherty

Here’s to trusting God when times are tough and we don’t understand what’s what…

grace, peace & faith

Virginia : )

Photos: Monument Valley, UT

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“Arise, shine, for the Light of the world is come…” (Isaiah 60:1)

“May Your waxen candles flaming spread their warmth, as their glow flickers darkness into light. May Your will be done to make us one again; may Your love’s glimmering hope illuminate our night. When now the silence spreads around us, O let us hear the sounds You raise, of world unseen in growth abounding, and the children chanting hymns of praise. The forces of good surround us in wonder, they firm up our courage for what comes our way, God’s with us from dawn to slumber of evening, the promise of Love at break of each day.”  Dietrich Bonhoeffer

grace, peace & Hope


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‘Tis the season for good cheer, but not everyone is able to put on their good cheer grooves. Times are tough. Maybe this year with so many challenges there won’t be many presents under the tree. Maybe you have lost a loved one and grief is hard to endure on your own.  

Maybe you are just plain tired of tinsel.

“Christmas will always be, as long as we stand heart to heart and hand in hand.” Dr. Seuss (from‘The Grinch Who Stole Christmas’)

A comforting thought, but we must do our part to stand heart to heart & extend our hand of cheer to those who need a little extra this year.

The kind of cheer that’s not store-bought, but heart-brought.

grace, peace & heart-brought cheer

Virginia : )

“Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of Love.” Hamilton Wright Mabi

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Flowering Perseverance

On this Thursday of Advent, here’s a quick encouragement to keep on, keeping on with whatever you are facing today. Hang in there.

DON’T GIVE UP!! God’s got you & God’s got this (whatever your challenges may be.)

Keep trusting, keep believing.

“Perseverance means the flowering of the love of God. It grows and grows, descending upon a soul like a cascade of flowers.” Catherine Doherty

grace, peace & flowering perseverance

Virginia : )

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A Prayer for the Prickly Bits

Preparing our hearts for Christmas, Advent is a good time to bring whatever we’re struggling with into the Light. Maybe fear has stymied our hopes into mopes, we’re wrestling with big decisions and don’t know what to do, anxiety is crushing us, or perhaps we’re just in a dark funk we can’t skunk.

With everyone making merry, sometimes it’s hard at this time of year to let the light of Christ seep into the corners of our hearts, especially the dark prickly bits.

“By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” (Luke 1:78-79)

Jesus is good with the prickly bits of our lives. He can even turn them into something beautiful, like these cactuses in Arizona catching the evening light. We just need to ask for His help!

Here’s a prayer for today:

Jesus, darkness doesn’t stand a chance in the bright Light of Your love. Please evaporate the darkness in our hearts, minds and spirits with the Light of Your mercy & grace. Take our fears, insecurities & anxieties. Strengthen our faith with courage, clarity & confidence to do Your will. Please empower & empassion us with Your love. Please transform our hearts & minds with Your wisdom & peace, that we may become bridges of peace in this fractured world. Make us conduits of Your Light in the night that surrounds us. Shine in us, O Lord, and through us – by Your grace.  Amen.

grace, peace & prickly-bits prayer

Virginia : )

“When I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a Light unto me.” Micah 7:8

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Darkness, Light & LOVE!

“The endurance of darkness is the preparation for great light.” Saint John of the Cross

Today we remember Saint John of the Cross (1541-1591), a Spanish saint known for documenting his “Dark Night of the Soul.” Misunderstood, mistreated, and maligned – John of the Cross came to know the dark intimately while imprisoned for his progressive faith. Yet through the depths of his experience he came to a deeper understanding of the incredible heights of God’s love.

May we learn from his example to seek God even when we feel abandoned and don’t understand: God’s love is with us in the darkest, stormiest places of our lives.

And I saw a river over which every soul must pass to reach the Kingdom of Heaven, and the name of that river was suffering … and then I saw a boat which carries souls across the river, and the name of that boat was Love.Saint John of the Cross

grace, peace & LOVE

Virginia : )

Where there is no love, put love, and you will draw love out.Saint John of the Cross

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Patience…More Patience!!      

On this Advent Monday we are edging closer to Christmas. There’s 12 days to go! Twelve days may seem short (looking at our to-do lists) or long (waiting for packages to arrive – in time?) Whatever the case may be, liturgically we are still in waiting mode. Patience required!

Patience is not an easy endeavor. Navigating our lives with patience is even harder.

“Patience is a hard discipline. It is not just waiting until something happens over which we have no control: the arrival of the bus, the end of the rain, the return of a friend, the resolution of a conflict. Patience is not a waiting passivity until someone else does something. Patience asks us to live the moment to the fullest, to be completely present to the moment, to taste the here and now, to be where we are. When we are impatient we try to get away from where we are. We behave as if the real thing will happen tomorrow; later and somewhere else. Let’s be patient and trust that the treasure we look for is hidden in the ground on which we stand.” Henri Nouwen

grace, peace & PATIENCE

Virginia : )

Photo: Banff National Park, Canada

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Gaudete Sunday: JOY! JOY! JOY!

I will greatly rejoice…my soul shall be joyful in my God…” (Isaiah 61:10)

On this Gaudete Sunday of Advent we are called to “Rejoice!” During this holiday season we hear carols about joy and songs of good cheer. Given the staggering challenges that surround us these days, finding our joy grooves may be a difficult task. It’s easy sometimes to confuse joy with merrymaking, but joy is so much more.

Joy is not bubble-head happiness that depends on what happens. Joy comes from within our hearts – sometimes deep within when when tough stuff pummels our hope to oblivion.

 “Joy is the noblest human act.” St. Thomas Aquinas

Joy does not mean pain-free living, but does not let pain drive us to darkness. Joy chooses to follow the Light, even when it’s hard at times to see the dimmest flicker.

Joy believes in God’s mercy and grace. Joy heals. Joy endures. Joy perseveres.

Joy finds value in the rubble of decimated lives, because those lives are valuable. Joy comes from a well of Love transported on wings of compassion that lift up the brokenhearted.

Joy finds & waters roses in the rubble of our lives with extra doses of hope and love.

At the end and beginning of each day, joy is a choice.

“Joy is not simply a matter of temperament. It is hard to be joyful – all the more reason why we should make it grow in our hearts. Joy is prayer; joy is strength; joy is love; joy is a net of love by which we catch others.” Mother Teresa (Saint Teresa of Calcutta)

Joy comes in all shapes and sizes, and Joy is what this season of Advent is all about.

Light coming into darkness. Sacrificial Love incarnated. Emmanuel, God-with-us.

Joy is possible, because Jesus Christ is.

grace, peace & JOY

Virginia : )

“Is my joy based on circumstances, or is my joy based on something within that no one can take from me or give to me?” Richard Rohr, OFM

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Patience & Faith-Muscles

“Let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” Galatians 6:9

On this Advent Saturday where we are half way to Christmas (it’s two weeks from today, in case you haven’t noticed?) We’re still in waiting mode, which is not easy, as stated, for certain impatient redheads.

The thing is there are all kinds of things we can be waiting for, not just Christmas. Often we work (& work & work & work) to see things change – and they don’t. But faith says we keep trying…

 Waiting seems to be a kind of acted-out prayer that is required more often than I could understand until I saw what remarkable faith-muscles this act develops.” Catherine Marshall

Here’s to not losing heart with extra developed faith-muscles!

grace, peace & faith

Virginia : )

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December 10th: Human Rights & Advent

It seems appropriate somehow that Human Rights Day falls during Advent.

“…And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8

Human Rights Day 2021 commemorates the establishment of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 when a war weary world said, “Never again!” The basic premise of the Declaration is that human rights are for all people – not just some.

Just like the love of God is for ALL people, not just some.

The Declaration of Human Rights proclaims “the inalienable rights which everyone is inherently entitled to as a human being — regardless of race, color, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.” 

We often think of the lack of human rights in faraway places, but there are many issues to consider close to home. Life is a gift, but for many crushed by injustice, inequality, and lack of access to basic rights, it’s a struggle to survive.

In this season of Advent look around and think about how Christ came as Love Incarnate into a war weary world 2,000+ years ago. The world needed the love of Jesus then, just as our whacked out world needs even more of His love now. Infused with His love, Jesus calls us today to be salt, light, and peacemakers…

“Keep your eyes on the Prince of Peace, the One Who doesn’t cling to His divine power; the One Who refuses to turn stones into bread and rule with great power… the One Who touches the lame, the crippled, and the blind, the One Who speaks words of forgiveness and encouragement… Keep your eyes on Him Who becomes poor with the poor, weak with the weak. He is the source of all peace.”  Henri Nouwen

grace, peace & peacemakers

Virginia : )

“…is this not the fast that I choose: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?”  Isaiah 58:6

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