Wednesday, December 28, 2011

the real holy week

For my clergy friends, the time between Christmas and New Year's is the real holy week. The accumulation of services, family gatherings and seasonal stress reach a kind of climax on Christmas Eve, and then there is a letdown. For some, it may be difficult to detach from the relentless pace, and for others it may be tempting to fill the time with tasks that have been lingering on the to-do list.

A holy week, however, presents an opportunity for something different. It is a time to filter out the noise and get back in touch with silence. It can also be a space in which to withdraw, for solitude and reflection. Into this time and space one can begin to think about the past, present and future. Of course, this bears some relationship to the making of resolutions, but more is at stake. We are not limited to doing the same things, in the same ways: we are making our way into a new future.

So, claim the holy time and space of the days between Christmas and New Year's. If you have been eating more, eat less. If you have been sedentary, go for a walk, hike, run or swim. If you once loved listening to a particular musician, find their tunes and download them. If you have some kind of spiritual or intellectual hunger, locate a book (one book) and bury yourself in it.

Begin to sketch the plans for the coming year. What are your birthright gifts, and how will you rediscover them? Who are those closest to you, and how will you help them to flourish? What can you set aside (stop doing)? Can you identify your calling in life? And how, in a clear and practical way---one that both stretches you and is possible for you---will you hear the cries of the poor and be a part of their deliverance? What place would you like to visit? What hobby would you like to pursue? And how will you find a manageable way to become more healthy?

These are a few questions. Maybe they are the right questions, maybe not. A perfect response is not required; what is essential is to take a simple and significant step in the direction that seems right for you. So you will choose the questions that are most exciting to you, or perhaps the most urgent.

In a holy time and space we hear the Voice that we have been avoiding. We declutter and remove the distractions. And then we gradually come into the clarity of being still and knowing that we are in the Presence.


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