Feast of the Holy Innocents

A few days ago I held a baby in my arms. I felt my heart shaped and molded into a vessel of love and compassion. I imagined the birth of the Holy Child, the softening of hardened hearts, the world transformed by Christ’s coming.

And then … I remembered the world in which we live: the homeless, the poor, the sick, the vulnerable ones who barely have enough to survive. I remembered those with power, whose hearts never seem to soften.

And today we observe The Feast of the Holy Innocents. When King Herod ordered the murder of all the children in Bethlehem so that he could hold on to his power.

When Herod knew the magi had fooled him, he grew very angry. He sent soldiers to kill all the children in Bethlehem and in all the surrounding territory who were two years old and younger, according to the time that he had learned from the magi. This fulfilled the word spoken through Jeremiah the prophet:

A voice was heard in Ramah,
weeping and much grieving.
Rachel weeping for her children,
and she did not want to be comforted,
because they were no more.
Matthew 2:16–18

I don’t know what to do with this story, with this world, with the situation in which we find ourselves. I seek wisdom and hope in the midst of it all; and I turn wise ones in various traditions (see the readings below). Where do you turn? What do you pray for? What are you reading?

If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of [their] own heart?
– Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
The Gulag Archipelago

Rather than original sin, there’s original soft spot. The messy stuff that we see in ourselves and that we perceive in the world as violence and cruelty and fear is not the result of some basic badness but of the fact that we have such a tender, vulnerable, warm heart of bodhichitta [a felt need to replace others’ suffering with bliss], which we instinctively protect so that nothing will touch it.
– Pema Chödrön
Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living

“You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you that you must not oppose those who want to hurt you. If people slap you on your right cheek, you must turn the left cheek to them as well. When they wish to haul you to court and take your shirt, let them have your coat too. When they force you to go one mile, go with them two. Give to those who ask, and don’t refuse those who wish to borrow from you.”
-Jesus, Matthew 5:38-41, CEB

I would not look upon anger as something foreign to me that I have to fight… I have to deal with my anger with care, with love, with tenderness, with nonviolence.
– Thich Nhat Hanh, Being Peace

Holy Eve

In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people:  to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.”

– Luke 2:8-11, NRSV

Blessings and love to all on this Holy Eve.

Our Strength, Our Hope

Israel’s strength and consolation,
hope of all the earth thou art.
-Charles Wesley
“Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus”

Jesus, Child of God, you are our strength, our hope, our comfort, and our consolation. You are, indeed, the hope of the world. Send your strength and healing to every broken place, every despondent heart.

From Child of the Light by Beth A. Richardson. © 2005 by the author. Published by Upper Room Books.

Photo: St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, Ireland.

Blessed Is the One

If Jesus
Was entering
Nashville today
Would the crowds wave
Dogwood branches?

A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
– Matthew 21:8-9

A Message from the Trees


I walk outside
And look up at the tree
In my front yard.

Its branches, bare.
Leaves, long shed,
Were raked and carried
To the backyard months ago.

But I see buds growing in the branches,
Promising life that will return
In its season.

What message for me, for us,
In these months of fear and challenge?

That though we have lost
Hopes and dreams …
That though our plans,
Swept up,
Now lie in the bottom of dust bins …

We are alive, growing,
Dormant, but still grounded in earthy hope.

Step outside and look toward the sky.
Life and hope and promise
Are growing in hidden places,
Preparing to break forth
In beauty and strength.

The Uncluttered Heart


Blessings to you, friends, as we have begun another Advent season. In case you are looking for The Uncluttered Heart, I wanted to direct you to its new home.

I am grateful for the chance to share the Advent journey with you through The Uncluttered Heart.

Update: To sign up to receive The Uncluttered Heart via email, choose: “Get updates about My Quiet Spaces” on the My Quiet Spaces email list.

Blessings and Love,

Love Came Down at Christmas


Love came down at Christmas,
Love all lovely, Love divine;
Love was born at Christmas;
star and angels gave the sign.

Worship we the God-head,
Love incarnate, Love divine;
worship we our Jesus,
but wherewith for sacred sign?

Love shall be our token;
love be yours and love be mine;
love to God and others,
love for plea and gift and sign.

– Christina Rossetti, 1885