Who Doesn’t Dream of This Year Being Different?

Trying to write a blog for the new year, my thoughts have been all over the place. We’ve just been through a pandemic Christmas – a Christmas with restrictions about how we can gather with other people. As I was wondering about the meaning of Christmas (which I do every year) I was struck by the dichotomy of having to stay away from people, while celebrating Jesus’s birth as an invitation to draw the world closer together. The themes of Advent, Hope, Peace, Joy and Love, still help me explore what life is about. A line from O Little Town of Bethlehem, “The hopes and fears of all the years, are met in Thee tonight”, has always defined Christmas for me.

Because of COVID-19 we chose to send Christmas E-cards rather than meet people in person. We needed to express our love and connection to those who matter to us. We reached out with zoom meetings and phone calls. We decorated and baked cookies to share on doorsteps. I realized that hope is not in a vaccine that will allow us to get back to some way of living that was pretty good. The Christmas celebration is inspired by a sacred presence that came into our world and gave us a calling/purpose to draw the world together in love.  

On the doorstep of 2021 I reflect on the pandemic year behind me that made me more cautious, more reflective, and more concerned about my family, my community and my world. It has drawn me deeper into my faith where I find support and a path for going forward. My hope is that we have recognized destructive patterns of behaviour which caused division and conflict, and will begin to adopt a new vision for working together to create a more welcoming and caring community for all people. Now, that is a big dream! The question for me to answer Is,  “What am I going to do to play a part in creating this new normal”?

My/our hope is that we may now be able to change some of the destructive patterns that have been dividing us as human beings and destroying our world. I’m now hearing new conversations that begin with the words, “We don’t want to get back to the way we were, we want to create a more loving way of living in the world”. That is the Christmas spirit.

I have not just lost my mind, believing that a new normal will just happen and we will live happily ever after. Hope is more difficult than wishful thinking. Hope is not about waiting for things to happen. It is about believing in something (or someone) that gives direction to your life, rolling up your sleeves and being willing to make the sacrifices required for a journey to a new place. It is the sacred story of following a star. The three wise people (scholars of their time) read the sacred texts and looked for the signs. They may not have known exactly where they were going, but they knew how to get there. What does that mean for me? What does that mean for my church? What does that mean for my city? What is possible and who do I/we want to be in this new year? A new year is not just a number; it is a possibility.

I recently read an article by a person named Illich, who was exploring the meaning of the word ‘conspiracy’. The word could mean with spirit, con spiratio — the ancient Christian practice of the holy kiss, sharing their breath or spirit with one another. It was in this conspiracy, literally this co-breathing, that the atmosphere conducive to pax, or peace, was established. It was in this practice that Illich found the sources of the practice of community that emerged in Christian Europe. Illich explained “The shared breath, or conspiratio is peace, understood as the community that arises from it.”

“We try not to breathe on each other much these days. We’ve learned this year to keep our bodies, more and more, to ourselves, and that’s the opposite of what Illich insists we should be doing. Only by breaking bread together, practicing physical hospitality, can we cultivate the true and human friendships that will renew our politics. And this moment feels like one in which it is more important than ever that we are able to renew the bonds of affection and care that are at the basis of political life”. https://breakingground.us/the-human-conspiracy  

This is our hope for the new year, that we can get back to closer, more personal interactions.

How silently, how silently, The wondrous gift is given, So God imparts to human hearts, The blessings of His heaven.This really is an agenda of loving one another. The Epiphany story is about an exchange of gifts that brings good news to the world. I am glad I belong to a church that can consider change and is inspired by God’s vision and spirit. And I am glad I belong to an organization whose purpose is creating a more compassionate city. The Calgary Alliance for the Common Good is a non-partisan and non-profit alliance of congregations, unions, schools and community groups in Calgary, representing more than 30,000 people. These organizations came together to form the Alliance in order to organize the power of our communities to shape a just and compassionate city.  https://www.calgarycommongood.org/about_us

I think I have a lot more to think about this next year. Thank you for hanging in there with me this past year with my blog. You give me an audience and the inspiration to continue putting my thoughts on paper and becoming clear about my faith and my life.

Epiphany is January 6th, the twelfth day of Christmas. May you discover the star you will follow this year.

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