One: Ingredients for Heaven

ingredients for heaven on earth,

In our little piece of heaven, my husband and I often share an aperitif under the leafed canopy in our backyard before supper. On such an occasion I leaned back in my lawn chair and looked up beyond the lime-green interruptions at a perfectly blue sky. A sudden inundation of gratitude glowed within my being. I am blessed. As I thought about how heaven had come about, a few important ingredients came to mind.

Important ingredients

Without these ingredients the many blessings so easily slip away. I remember a time when depression dogged my daily life. Fear had me in its deadly grip and heaven was far away. Even today, should I forget to name the good in each moment, I may awake to the old familiar fatigue draining all vitality from every step I take. Hence, being present is important.

Blessing instead of curse

Blessing instead of cursing is another of the ingredients. Rather than joining the throng criticizing government, church and spouse, I choose silence for the most part. Each negative thought and word dismantles the good around and within us, blinds us to the beautiful. Truth is, our world is far from perfect. Instead of criticism, however, a few steps in the direction of kindness and patience make a solid foundation for heaven on Earth. “Thank you” uplifts weary souls. A smile can do wonders for an overburdened spirit.

Gratitude is one of the ingredients

Another ingredient is gratitude. While everyone can decide to be grateful, the choice is far from unanimous. Maybe if we were more grateful, heaven would be closer.

Detachment

Among the ingredients is the knowing that nothing belongs to me. All my comforts, my home, my family, everything belongs to the one who gave it to me. I do not own my spouse or any of the members of my family. My home is a borrowed dwelling where I am responsible for upkeep and beautification. Moving forty times in my life has taught me detachment. Although I must admit if a tornado blew through I would be upset for a while.

Sharing is among the ingredients

Sharing shows up among the ingredients. Although Covid-19 has put a damper on sharing, it is still possible. We look forward to new ways to share the wealth of our blessings. Every time we come together we ripple the goodness creating a larger space in which heaven may grow here and now. Walking in solidarity with those less fortunate moves us toward a better world. We can sign petitions, donate to charities, move beyond our comfort zones to include those outside our circles.

Peace is a blend of ingredients

A certain peace permeates our little piece of heaven because it does not depend on external measurements. Our home is not large, our family is imperfect, our community insular. Imperfections give us something on which to work and keep us humble. Remembering we are not alone and the whole is not our responsibility, gives us room to be the best we can be. I do not need to do it all and it is not about me.

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One: Merry Christ mas

Christ, Christmas, celebration, blessings, greetings
All wrapped and ready to go.

”Whenever the material and the spiritual coincide, there is the Christ. Jesus fully accepted that human-divine identity and walked it into history. Henceforth, the Christ “comes again” whenever we are able to see the spiritual and the material coexisting, in any moment, in any event, and in any person.” Richard Rohr, Daily Meditations,3 December 2018.

Christ’s incarnation

I have been thinking about this joyful season and its greeting as the celebration of the incarnation of God approaches. More and more I hear people wishing a Merry Christmas to those around them. Perhaps the return of this greeting has something to do with the uproar over the song “Let it Snow”.

Celebration greetings

Amidst my pondering people have greeted me with happy Hanukkah and I wondered if Ramadan occurred around this time of year too. No one seems offended by greetings connected to these celebrations. So why is “Merry Christmas” banned in some places?

Well-wishers

From my point of view these greetings share the same invitation: well-wishes for everyone. Especially now, after all it is the time of solstice and the days will be getting thankfully longer. We will soon see the sun again as we move to and from work! Longing for light, we tire of the darkness.

Greetings reveal identity

Another consequence of having wished people well is the inevitable identification we shoulder. By wishing you a Merry Christmas I identify myself as Christian, not a popular stance these days and very much discouraged. “People might be offended,” they say. I have no idea why. I am not offended when someone wishes me a happy Hanukkah, or a happy Ramadan. Rather, I take it as a blessing, and we have much need of blessings these days.

Christ came for everyone

So, when I wish you a Merry Christmas, I am attempting to bless you not convert you to my rather imperfect religion. When someone takes offense, I am truly saddened to know this person has been somehow wounded by association with the Christian church. I understand and I will pray for that person. There is much need of healing. New teaching, more accurate teaching about Christ, would go a long way too. I pray for my embattled, imperfect church too. There is much to be done. I am hoping my joyful contribution will make a difference in this beleaguered world.

Blessings

With that in mind, Merry Christmas everyone. May you enjoy the blessings of this special season abundantly: joy, peace, love and fellowship. In addition, may you find it in your heart ot bless those around you with the gifts you have received and can share. Blessings to you all.

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