Our Christmas

photo by Brother Randy, Hudson River, sunlight, winter (a view from Holy Cross Monastery)

In local news. We spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at Holy Cross Monastery. We enjoyed Vespers and a candlelight procession and the blessing of the monastery crèche and a traditional Polish supper, special music, midnight mass, a splendid Christmas dinner. Then we went home to our special music, our Lauds and the blessing of our crèche, our Christmas mass, a festive brunch, our carol singing. And snow: a snowstorm pouring at least 20 inches – with deep drifts. Yesterday Bill dug us out and helped a sick neighbor and baked the Christmas cake while I stayed on the couch all day napping. Today (Tuesday) we’ll have our Christmas dinner and cake. Bill and I haven’t yet opened our presents and we still have to read aloud the last chapter of Dickens; about the visit of the Ghost of Christmas Future and the final stage of Scrooge’s conversion. And it will be Christmas until our Feast on Epiphany and the crèche stays up until Candlemas. And there’s so much more music to sing!

My prayer. On Christmas morning I woke before dawn, even though I’d gone to bed at 2:30. I went to the refectory and watched the most spectacular dawn I’d ever seen.  The light show, the familiar and comforting burnt toast scent, the excitement of Christmas made it easy to pray.  Tears, laughter, worry & concern, listening, more tears, giggling, deep joy. And then, the guesthouse still completely solitary, I went to the crypt to pray and then to the monastery church to dance with and cradle the baby Jesus. I remember, too, that John of the Cross used to dance with the infant child. How can you not?  But I suppose if I were in a strange place, or I had not spent so many Christmases at Holy Cross, I could not have prayed so well, or danced so uninhibitedly.

Inspiration.  Although we use the New Revised Common Lectionary here at the convent, we switch Christmas I and II so that the proper for Sunday was John 1:1-18, The Word Made Flesh, as we’re used to from the Episcopal lectionary. Our extraordinary Sister Carol Bernice preached on Sunday, and I asked if I could share a paragraph from her sermon.

Something happened and something happens.  Because of it, says John, we are going to reframe our creation story.  Perfectly echoing Genesis 1 John says, “In the beginning”, but here something new, “there was the Word.”   The Word was life and in the fullness of time life becomes flesh–even our flesh.  Life says, “we are all one”, the same life, sprung from the One and only Word.   Therefore we are brothers and sisters, children, heirs–begotten, beloved, of one being.  Paul divined that an experience of this knowing makes the Law worthless and a society that has no need of law must be made up entirely by people clothed in robes of deliverance and wrapped in mantles of justice.  Something happened and something happens each and every time the Word springs to life in individual souls and we are created, or is it begotten, anew.  It happened big once, in the beginning, and it happens small all the time, eternally one could say.  God spoke once, I heard it twice. – Sister Carol Bernice CHS

And from me: Dearly Beloved – may your Christmas days be luminous, full of joy and growing in God.

-Suzanne

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One Response to “Our Christmas”

  1. Chris Says:

    I love the winter sun over the barren trees, a dance indeed! Thank you for sharing the burnt toast and the silence and the sermon.

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