And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
On the night our Savior came into the world, there was no room for him. I can only imagine how Mary and Joseph must have felt. Tired and dusty from the long trip through Galilee and Judea. Mary, heavy with child, uncomfortable, frightened, knowing with a woman’s intuition that her time was near. Joseph, realizing with dread that they would not make it home in time, and their child would have to be born here, in Bethlehem. This brave couple, so very young and alone, desperately searching for a safe place to give birth, only to be told there was no room at the local inn.
John the Baptist says: “The Kingdom of Heaven is near” … “Prepare the way of the Lord!” Just like that innkeeper in Bethlehem, during this holy season of Advent, we are being asked to make room for Jesus in our lives…in our hearts…and the world.
How will we respond to this request? Continue reading
Lord, there are days when my prayer life stagnates. When the old trusty prayers fail to inspire. When new words won’t come. Everything is dry as the desert. On these days, I ask you to come to me in a new way. Help me discover fresh ways to see you, to talk with you… to know you. Refresh my desert days with living water.
Lord, there are days when I forget to pray at all. When signs of you are all around me, but I fail to see them. Instead my mind focuses on the endless “to do” list. The daily distractions of the outer world. On these days I ask you to send me a reminder of your loving presence. Help me to see your authorship in all that surrounds me. Guide me from my wandering with a gentle reminder.
Lord, there are days when I find myself stuck. Clenching my fist tightly around a past hurt or a stubborn mindset. This holding on becomes a holding back. On these days, I ask you to grant me permission to let go. Release me from all that holds me in chains. So that I might move forward in love and action and inspiration.
During a few blustery, rainy days here in New England, I watched the autumn leaves fall like snow. (Reminding us of what’s to come!) My imagination conjured the sad image of these trees desperately clinging to their many-colored coats as they struggled to hold on against the unrelenting wind. A few days later, after reading a scientific article, I was surprised to learn what’s really going on.
In autumn, trees “decide” to let go of their leaves.
In the warm and fruitful days of spring and summer, leaves use sunlight and water to make food for the tree. With the coming of winter, these leaves become inefficient and unable to produce food. In order to survive the harsh winter and allow for new growth in the spring, a decidous tree must shed its leaves and seal off the spots where they were growing.
This is done through a process called abscission. When the Northern days grow shorter and colder, trees release a hormone that causes tiny cells to grow at the spot where the leaf stem meets the branch. These are called “abscission” cells. (Think “scissors.”) These cells form a line that weakens the leaf stem and allows the wind to do the rest.
A very different metaphor then what I originally imagined. A story of struggle and loss gives way to one of empowerment and growth. Instead of holding on in vain, the trees are actively participating in a process of letting go. What a powerful example of how we might choose to live! Think of the autumn leaves as habits, behaviors, or ways of thinking that are not life-giving or sustaining. By letting go of them, we—like the trees—allow for protection, preparation, and new growth.
And so I ask…is there something you need to let go of? Continue reading