Newsletter - Winter 2007
In the stillness of our longing,
the God of Love
to be with us.
Dear Friends of Carmel,
It has been said that at Christmas time, all the world is kin. As we see the many Christmas cards mounting on our mail table, we become more and more convinced of this kinship. Certainly, it is a kinship that is very special. As always, the Madonna and Child above the table continue to bring down many blessings upon you and your families. And, so we begin our own letter. We write to you as we would write to a friend.
There is a certain atmosphere in the monastery these days. The thought of Christmas stirs within our hearts, and it shows. As we carry out our usual Hour of Prayer in late afternoon, we can see the shadows of the countryside trying to join us. It is soothing and quiet. The poet, Rilke, speaks of God moving throughout our homes and throughout our lives. Of all who move throughout our day, God is the quietest. Rilke goes on to say that we become accustomed to this quiet movement. We no longer look up when God’s shadow falls on a book we may be reading, and somehow makes it glow. Is this what makes things glow, every once in awhile?
Through the years, we have come to know that every Christmas is new . The earlier darkness of the evening seems to have a power over us. Even our faces take on a different expression. This is especially true as we finalize the articles for our journal, Journey and the Joy . We ask ourselves, “What does God want us to say to the world, this Christmas?” One of our writers is in the process of leading our readers into the depth and beauty of that early evening darkness mentioned above. Another Sister is reflecting on how to actually be the Good News ourselves for others, and how all this comes about. And, then there is the article on traveling with the Magi, with all the bumps and set-backs along the way.
Our Christmas issue of Journey and the Joy will also carry a reflection on the power of possibility. To carry out our dreams, it seems like it is first necessary to believe that our dreams are possible. Emily Dickinson writes about a daily bliss she once had. She wasn’t aware of it until she felt it stirring within her. When she paid attention to it, the bliss got bigger and bigger. Dear God, may such a thing happen this Christmas! Even the thought of a possibility has power to transform us.
One of our writers has let us in on a well-kept secret. Every Christmas Eve she has her own personal custom of bundling up and going outside to look up at the stars. This is easy to do since we are away from city lights. She tells us that she looks up and says to herself, “At this moment, Christmas is happening all over the world.” It is an awesome experience. Hallmark (would we be wanting to improve on Hallmark?) has a card that catches up a similar theme. It goes something like this: “In a star-filled sky that Holy Night, there was a star that shone more brightly than all the other stars.”
We do have our lightsome moments. St. Teresa of Avila insisted that her Sisters enjoy life. Laughter seems to come naturally to our group. If this doesn’t happen, we are told that the best way to forget all our troubles is to wear tight shoes. Research shows that laughter reduces stress, improves breathing, enhances the immune system and reduces pain. At least, the Old Farmer’s Almanac thinks so, and if the farmer says so, it must be true. However, the writer of the Almanac doesn’t seem to know about December 14 being the Feast of St. John of the Cross. On that particular day, the writer tells us that we should put bay leaves under our pillow so that we will have sweet dreams. St. John liked asparagus. We’re wondering if asparagus would work. The farmer goes on to suggest that we give our best friend a bag of walnuts for Christmas. This will help that friend’s wishes come true.
As we close this very home-spun letter, the leaves from our ginkgo tree are falling. The tree loses all its leaves in one day. As we look out the window, the leaves are coming down gently, much like snow and the blessings of God. There is not even a breeze to make this happen. The leaves come down on their own.
Dear Friends, we hope that all your wishes, bliss, and possibilities will come true. We will be remembering you especially on those evenings before Christmas when we will be singing and processing to the crib. On Christmas Eve, your intentions will be placed near that crib in our chapel. May you have warmth in your home, oil in your lamp and peace in your heart. If you have a chance, look out the window, (even if it is just a little window), and see a star-filled sky. It could be that you will see, again, the star that first appeared the day you were born. We send you our love and the promise of prayer.
Your Carmelite Sisters – Eldridge, Iowa
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