Week one – week of Hope third day of advent and I am pacing myself. Slowing down is good for the soul and things really do get done. As I prepare the way for Christmas I am grateful not to be working at a frenetic pace. Just as the sun rises and sets over a period, the hours, days and weeks leading up to Christmas are here to savor.
Yesterday my cup of blessings was empty… today it is full; full of a day of choices. And actually, the choices were fairly mundane, but in hindsight, I made dozens of decisions. And just how freeing is that? How can I feel anything but hope-filled given I am in a place to choose!
The work of the Holy Spirit along with the forces of nature led me to the 30-day challenge of Joan Jakel: attorney, artist, entrepreneur, empowerment instigator!
IT IS A DAY OF POSSIBILITIES! How is it possible that TODAY is the first day of Advent? How is it possible that I was brought to this space on your journey, Joan, and I begin mine today? Just as this first week of Advent is a time to reflect on a message of hope, I begin my 30 days of filling my cup with blessings! While I do so, I read your reflection and I am filled with hope. This is a day of possibilities. So let us begin.
Yesterday was our last vacation day. It rained. It was cold. We had tickets to an end of the season college football game. And there had to be a better way to spend the day (like at home in front of a blaring fire). As we drove on campus and searched for parking… God and Nature came together with an answer and HOPE and possibilities.
But… back to today. I followed a link to Jenn Kaye’s Love Glasses Revolution. It provided an interesting connection. Every Advent I create a cup that is overflowing with blessings.I take that GLASS cup, write on a stick what I am grateful for during the 30 days that lead up to Christmas…and fill it up with Hope, Love, Faith, and Joy; the messages of advent.(Oh and add money each day that will serve as an extra donation at Christmas).
Day 1, today is a day of possibilities.
On the 24th of November, Napa proved to be
12 foods to choose from
11 bottles of V Arroyo
10 friends round the Thanksgiving table
9 sharing blessings
8 AM with Macy’s
6 Ladies dancing
5 hours of joy
4 of us together
3 fabulous hosts
2 much laughter
1 terrific turkey gathering
There's a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, or so I've been told. It was a chilly, blustery, rainy, Sunday afternoon; a day for reading, writing and relaxing the hours away. As he is apt to do, my dear husband tore an article out of his favorite catholic magazine, "First Things" (circulation 30,000). "This is a must read," Dennis said. Without a doubt, Mark Bauerlein's 'Down and out in Del Mar' tugged at my heart. It was at the completion of the article that my day took a turn. I wanted to learn more about this senior editor, writer, professor---man whose words held my attention and sparked my next steps. I was prompted to explore Hillbilly Elegy, by J. D. Vance, referenced by Bauerlein. Then my attention was directed to a review in the L.A. Times of his book, The Dumbest Generation. At this point, it would appear that my rain-drenched soul whould pack it in for the day. But there would be more... I decided I would place a hold on both books referenced above. After I had done so at the county library's website, an image moved across the screen: Poetry Reading... and conversation with Poet Laureate Dana Gioia. As a writer, published poet and art-aholic this was an opportunity of a lifetime. I had read Gioia's books, listened to his TED Talks, watched his Stanford commencement addresses online, and followed his succesful career as Chairman of the NEA, more especially a program he created for high school student, Poetry Out Loud. Mr. Gioia was speaking at The Katie Wheeler Public Library, in historic Irvine; this afternoon at 2:30. It was precisely 2:30. Missed opportunity, my heart sank. My husband had postponed his daily shower, and had just began his soulful cleansing. I rushed into the bathroom screaming, "Gioia's in town, we've missed him." Knowing my appreciation for the 2016 Poet Laureate, Dennis'response was simple, "Just say yes and we are out the door in five minutes." --- she said YES! And so it was. We sped cross town. Walked into a crowded room. We were late and separated; but directed to the last two available seats. (Mr. Gioai motioned me to take the only empty seat in the front row). After Mr. Gioia recited a handful of poems from his book 99 Poems, questions were answered, an autographed book was in hand and an engaging conversation with Mrs. Gioia; I had found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
God commands us to love others as we love ourselves. If we cannot love ourselves then, how can we love others?
So it is with Peace… If we do not have peace in our hearts, “shalom bayit” or peace in our homes, how then, can we be at peace with others?
Leonard Cohen left this earth last week, and less than three weeks before his death, he left us one of his most troubling, brilliant poems entitled, “YOU WANT IT DARKER.” In that poem he cries out in Hebrew: hineni, hineni, I’m ready my lord.
“Hineni” was Moses’ response to God’s summons from the burning bush. “Hineni”. I am here. I am ready. As you recall, Moses had a stutter. I imagine he was mortified at first to raise his imperfect voice and speak the truth of his innermost being. But it was time. He had to move through whatever vanity, past wounds, and future fears had previously kept him from baring and speaking his naked heart.
Many of us are feeling the “Hineni” rising within us in response to these turbulent times. It is my hope that some of these events will serve you as you heed the call to let the truth of who you are shine ever more nakedly in this churning world.
Hear now a prayer of forgiveness and peace from the Jewish High holy days:
You, Lord, our eternal friend, open our hearts, we are ready Lord. Let us forgive others, so that we may forgive ourselves. With your power of healing, we can continue to fight against social and economic institutions that oppress others, or hurt the earth’s life support system. Let us do so with love in our hearts.
Lord, we seek peace, let each of us be peace. We seek justice, let us be just. We seek a world of kindness. Let us be kind. We seek a world of generosity. Let us share all that we have with those who are in need. We seek a world of love. Let us be loving beyond all normal expectations.
And lord, let us be open, aware, sensitive and understanding.
Source of goodness and love in the universe, give us energy, the courage, the strength to engage in the struggles that must take place to transform our government, our community our homes and our hearts.
Hear, oh lord, the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts that they find acceptance before you.
Hineni, hineni, I am ready my Lord. Amen
I cannot undo what I just saw
It was telling and truthful; and it was raw.
Pain and pleasure, two hearts entwined
For the love of God and mysteries enshrined.
After awhile you learn the subtle difference
Between holding a hand and chaining a soul
And you learn that love doesn’t mean security,
And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts
And presents aren’t promises.
And you begin to accept your defeats
With your head up and your eyes open,
With the grace of an adult, not the grief of a child.
And you learn to build all your roads on today,
Because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain.
And futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.
After awhile you learn that even sunshine
Burns if you get too much.
So you plant your own garden and decorate
Your own soul, instead of waiting
For someone to bring you flowers
And you learn that you really can endure…
That you really are strong,
And you really do have worth
And you learn and learn and learn.
With every goodbye you learn.
The review in the travel guide of “things to do in Boston” suggests that if given two days, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts is a must. If, however, you only have two hours, then the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is the stop. Little is known about the palace that stands across from the MOFA, outside of the inner circle of arts, but with a strong cult following, this museum has something for everyone. This counter-institution provides one with an intriguing look into the life of the “queen” of Boston’s Fenns of 1902. The palace, operating as a museum since the beginning of the 20th century, is dark, dank, and stuffed with clutter. There is not a naked wall, a cleaned desktop or empty corner to be found throughout the hallowed halls.
The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum’s preeminent collection contains more than 2,500 paintings, sculptures, tapestries, furniture, manuscripts, rare books and decorative arts. It also offers classes for adults and students, community events, walks through expansive gardens and performances in the Calderwood Hall.
Intrigue surrounds the museum as in the early morning hours of March 18, 1990, a pair of thieves disguised as Boston police officers entered the Gardner Museum and stole thirteen works of art.
Thieves gained access into the Museum by posing as Boston police officers and stating that they were responding to a call. The guard on duty broke protocol and allowed them entry through the Museum’s security door.
Once inside, the thieves asked that the guard come around from behind the desk, claiming that they recognized him and that there was a warrant out for his arrest. The guard walked away from the desk and away from the only alarm button. The guard was told to summon the other guard on duty to the security desk, which he did. The thieves then handcuffed both guards and took them into the basement where they were secured to pipes and their hands, feet, and heads duct taped. The two guards were placed 40 yards away from each other in the basement.
The next morning, the security guard arriving to relieve the two night guards discovered that the Museum had been robbed and notified the police and director Anne Hawley.
The stolen works include: Rembrandt’s Storm on the Sea of Galilee and A Lady and Gentleman in Black both from 1633 as well as and a Self Portrait from 1634. Only a blank wall remains where the most valuable stolen work of art, Vermeer’s The Concert (1658–1660) hung.
In 1919, Isabella Stewart Gardner suffered the first of a series of strokes and died five years later, on July 17, 1924. Her will created an endowment of $1 million and outlined stipulations for the support of the museum, including that the permanent collection not be altered.
On Wednesday, August 24th the Costa Mesa Senior Center took a chance on love and guess what happened? Love won over our hearts! Perhaps the Costa Mesa Senior Center staff gambled when they decided to host a screening of the 2014 film “The Age of Love.” However, I would say this successful event was a turning point for the Center.
More than 100 men and women of all ages were on hand not only to be entertained but to participate in a live discussion with the acclaimed filmmaker and screenwriter, Steven Loring. For Mr. Loring the making of this film was personal. Before the documentary aired (live via broadcast), he shared with the audience that the sudden death of his father at 70 which left his mother alone and lonely launched his quest to find answers about love for older adults.
“The Age of Love” took us on a journey with 30 seniors from 70 to 90 who signed up for speed dating. Sharing the onscreen experiences and the touching moments of fear and happiness, the audience laughed and sighed aloud. We heard what we already knew to be true in our hearts that aging isn’t kind but there is life after loss. Personally, I was touched as I watched from a back row as heads nodded when one participant said, “aren’t we all in search of companionship, friendship and someone to share experiences with?” (And, by the way this is just what the senior center succeeded in providing)!
After the film, Mr. Loring returned for Q & A. The comment by a 25 year old women in the audience summed up this great event, ” this documentary was real, moving with a message of love for all ages. I am glad I came to the senior center.”
…And so am I. Great job Costa Mesa Senior Center for raising bar!