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Dear Friends,

“Wise Women also came” as Jan Richardson reminds us!   It is striking that these wise women and men whom we celebrate at Epiphany recognized something very

special in this sleeping innocent infant.  Just as it is striking that the thief on the cross recognized something very special in the man dying on the cross next to him, as did the centurion underneath the cross as Jesus died.  These “wise” people were seeing with mystical eyes, eyes of the heart.  Do you and I have mystical eyes to see God and to see the deep down dignity of the people we encounter?

At this time of “Women’s Christmas” (a day set aside in many parts of the world for women to relax after the fullness of the holiday season) Jan Richardson offers all a special online retreat entitled “By way of the heart” in which she builds her reflections on the Magi going home by another route.  It seems that we recognize God “by way of the heart” and not by way of the eyes or by way of logic.  Perhaps it is also by way of the heart and not by way of the eyes that we recognize the deep down dignity of others as well.  Pope Francis contends that people will come to Christianity by way of attraction: if what they see lived out in the lives of Christians around them is attractive, they will pay attention.  On weekdays at this time of the year, we are reading Chapter One of John’s Gospel where John the Baptist points Jesus out to Andrew and the Beloved Disciple and then Andrew tells Peter and they tell Philip and Philip tells Nathaniel .  Excitement at what they have found cannot be contained and so they tell those closest to them.  Each of us are called to pass on the good news in the same way.  (For further information about Jan’s complementary on-line retreat visit her website:  www.paintedprayerbook.com)  

Jan Richardson gives us a blessing for the journey:

Constellation
A Blessing for Women’s Christmas

Consider that the heart
holds its own constellation.

Consider that it has
a secret chamber
radiant with unspent light.

Consider this when you cannot find
that one star, that dream
that compels you to the road.

When every last thing seems
to have disappeared into dark,
consider that you cannot always know
how you bear this brightness
but that it holds you
and is not wasted
or lost.

See how we share this sky,
how it stretches above us
beyond every border,
how every day
turns each of us
in steady revolution
through morning, night,
morning again.

Or think of it like this:
that every heart is its own voyage,
sending its vessels out,
drawing them back again,
never by the same way they went
but still somehow making for
home, that place
that shimmers now in welcome
with all the gathered light
you had thought
you could not see.

—Jan Richardson

At this holy season, our hearts are full of joy …of gratitude…and of hope that come from the richness of grace we find in our relationship to each of you and in the strength of community we experience at The Spirit of Life.  We pray that these days bring each of you the opportunity to gather with loved ones, family and friends, ‘strangers’ and all ‘people of good will.  As the New Year dawns, may we receive the grace of openness to new possibilities….new ways of being…and let the Light of Hope and Love  surround and embrace us as we birth that light into the lives of others.  Michael Dougherty captures our mission well: “to welcome the refugee, to heal a broken planet, to feed the hungry. to build bridges of trust, not walls of fear, to share our gifts, to seek justice and peace for all people.”

We wish you a Happily Blessed New Year!!  And…we invite you to share in The Spirit of Life Community’s celebration in whatever way possible for you.  All are always welcome!!

With an abundance of loving gratitude for your presence in our lives,

Jean & Ron