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Remember when we were about to move into this century and there were dire predictions that the world would come to an end?  Today I received a video via e-mail with more dire predictions about the collapse of the American economy and the dollar that will eclipse anything we have ever known before.  Something that will happen early in 2012 that will change the way we live and not for the better.  Not being an economist I haven’t a clue but it is at least scarey and makes me wonder if we should take what we have and bury it in a tin can in the backyard!   All in all, I agree that the state of the world is not very promising.  On a much happier note though, I received an e-mail from Katerina Whitley, Greek born author, teacher, church journalist, retreat leader and extraordinary human being.  Google her and read all about her.  I was privileged to once take a writing workshop with her and have read her books.  She wrote in the e-mail that she has stopped looking at the news (3-years now and hasn’t missed it) and she doesn’t “do” Walmart either!  These words were at the end of her e-mail and they struck me as words of great hope and reminded me of the brightness of the African sky at night with no ambient light.  “When it gets dark enough you can see the stars.”  (Charles A. Beard)  On this eve of a new year may we all see the stars and see wonder and awe every day. 

It had to happen.  Here we are in the Twelve Days of Christmas (Christmastide) and what did I see in WalMart yesterday?  Valentine’s Day candy!  My friend Gail says that I am a throwback to yesteryear.  An ink pen and clean piece of paper thrills me just as a real letter makes me stop my day and sit down to read words formed by hand ~ a true gift of love.  I doggedly go around saying:  Merry Christmas.  In the gym on Tuesday, Mike said:  “Christmas is over,” and a woman said:  “Thank goodness.”  That makes me sad.  Things change ~ the world changes day by day.  Technology, which I love is running wild and I struggle to barely keep up.   Everyone sits around checking their I-Phones with little conversation.  Secular takes over f rom the sacred when everyday should be  sacred.  Today is the 6th day of Christmas ~ six geese a’laying which might just mean the 6 days of creation.  I looked for my true love to give me 5 golden rings yesterday ~ didn’t happen so maybe it is just a silly English Christmas song.  Maybe this one makes more sense:  “Love Came Down at Christmas.”  The last verse goes like this:  “Love shall be our token; love be yours and love be mine, love to God and neighbor, love for plea and gift for sign.”  (Christina Rossetti).   MERRY CHRISTMAS.

 

“Today!” the boy says.  “Why Christmas Day.”  Yes, as told in Dickens’ timeless “A Christmas Carol” it is now Christmas Day.  

A prayer as we begin this day with families and friends, dogs and cats, happiness and sadness:

Lord, let us love the humble, the lowly and the lonely.  Amen

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO OUR FRIENDS  ALL OVER THE WORLD.

The day draws near as we make our way to the stable once again, and we are filled with joyful expectation that life will be renewed.  And it is, over and over and over. 

For many, Christmas evokes memories.  When I was a very little girl I would sit in our living room all by myself and look at the lighted tree and read or listen to music.  Last night, for the first time in days, I sat down, not at the computer which doesn’t count as “sitting down”, but in the living room.  The tree lights were on, the last act of La Boheme was on the radio; I read Steve Bouser’s piece in our local newspaper about Christmas in Russia when he and his wife and daughter lived there.  He said if he had ever experienced a miracle in his lifetime, “it was the resurgence of Christianity in Russia after so many decades of cruel repression.”  Earlier I had read Barbara Crafton’s Almost Daily e-Mo (bcc@geraniumfarm.org) and laughed and resonated with her words about downsizing.  Check it out ~ in her indomintable way she hears “the voice with the steely love I recognize as the voice of God.”  I hear it every now and then and it quickly puts me in my place, such as my aggitation the other day as I sat in the Toyota dealership for 3 hours when I had at least a trillion things to do.  The voice said:  “but you have a car.”  We forget sometimes, don’t we?  Barbara was grousing that she has not unpacked all of the boxes filled with silver and teapots from her recent move.  The steely voice reminded her that “the Son of Man had no place to lay his head.  A woman in the Philippines surveyed the sodden pile of mud sticks of wood that was once her home.  A family arrives a the air base in Dover to claim the body of their only son, the last American casuality of the Iraq war.”  You get her message.  I did.

After the opera more beautiful music continued into the night.  “The Shepherd’s Farewell” filled the room, a lilting piece of music by Berlioz that is so plaintive that it makes my heart melt.   One futher memory as I thought of Johnny and our choir so often doing that lovely piece:  Father Hank and I would stand in the Narthex of the church quietly anticipating the first sounds of “O Come All Ye Faithful” before midnight Mass.  We would look at each other and each gulp down the lump that had formed in our throats.  We were well into the third verse before I could sing a note.  How will it be at St. Thomas’ in Sanford this year where I was graciously asked to serve one more time?   Our African friends will sing those words 7 hour before we do.  “O Come All Ye Faithful.”

St. Thomas Episcopal Church, Sanford, North Carolina

Each day’s mail brings more envelopes with requests and I feel so guilty when I don’t even open some of them. At our meetings at VTS we had confirmed what we all aready know, that Americans are the best at giving to charities. This got us to thinking about charity in general. What is it? It really can be a way of involvement, and when that is the case, we feel better about it. Involvement, self-sustaining projects. Webster’s New World College Dictionary distinguishes between charity and philanthropy. “Charity is a love of one’s fellow human beings”. “Philanthropy is a desire to hep mankind especially as shown by gifts to charitable or humanitarian institutes”. I like knowing the distinctions between the behaviours. Your “involvement” with KARIMU and therefore the lives of the people in Tanzania has helped so much to ease the burdens by teaching new empowerment behaviours to women as well as children. The women who can now speak English and are furthering their education, the children who are going to school – the women who have learned how to handle money, raise animals, sell them, work in teams, teach others what they know. These are wonderful things! They may be small, but they are life-transforming for people who live in a land that lacks the infrastructure, laws and programs to give them the proverbial “leg-up”.

Now we will embark upon a new venture with “Footsteps in Faith” to help Msalato be self-sustaining through an endowment fund. We feel so strongly about this project, that Msalato offers the best in training for their students in becoming pastors as it not only teaches theology in the manner that seminaries here teach, but incorporates the African cultural background, spiritism, and history to best integrate their history with Christian theology.

Oh, and thank you all for coming to the art show! We were able to give $1,100 to The Empty Stocking Fund from our proceeds! Have a happy Christmas! Jessie

This is where we walked Gerry and James ~ this hallowed ground where many young men and women have been trained and educated to make this a better world.  There is a field track down this brick walkway and an open field beyond that where the dogs could run high-spirited, as free as the wind.  Of course, James could run underneath Giant Gerry.

Jessie and I are home now from our work week in Alexandria.   Time is short ~ Christmas Eve is a week from today.  Yikes. 

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