Whale Spouts - December 2018

Dear friends,

Simplify, Simplify, Simplify is my mantra this holy-day season.  What events/traditions to keep and what to release? Not an easy decision! However, releasing myself from even a few tasks has allowed me to breathe just a little bit easier.  

I decided that for this December's edition of Whale Spouts I would recycle some of my favorite holiday reflections from the past four years rather than creating brand new content - and I am breathing a little bit easier.  What is one little thing you might release that will allow you to breathe easier this year? Check out the Advent Speed Bumps below for a few suggestions. 
Included in this edition of Whale Spouts you will find...
*  Meaningful Gifting
*  Contemplate This:  Advent Speed Bumps
*  Prayer:  A Motley Crew
*  Belly of the Whale Silent, Guided Retreat - Coming Summer 2019

Blessings to you as we seek to keep it simple, meaningful and colorful during these blessed holy-days. 

Pastor Sharon
Founder & Director
Photo is the star our front yard and was included 
 in the  January 2016 Whale Spouts Newsletter.

Meaningful Gifting

I am NOT a fan of shopping - in fact, pulling into a mall makes my blood pressure rise and my heart sink into my toes!! However, I AM a big fan of gifting the people I love with something meaningful during the holidays. So, during this season that can all too easily become over-commercialized, I gently offer an antidote.  

Here are a few simple suggestions for stress-free and meaningful gifting.  I have used all of the books/resources below and found each of them to be deeply meaningful. You could even embellish any of these items with your own simple, personal touches (candles, colored pencils, journal, Bible, music or even chocolate!).  

Contemplate This:  Advent Speed Bumps
The race to December 25 th  has begun. This year, I choose not to join the race. I choose to slow myself down with a few carefully placed "Advent Speed Bumps" on my road to Bethlehem. I choose to wait with bated breath, to linger with friends, to savor the flavors, to bask in the candlelight, to listen deeply in the silent night. I invite you to do the same. 

Light candles:  'Tis the season of dwindling daylight. Light up the darkness with candles anywhere  and everywhere - you can even use the battery kind if you are worried about safety. Have a candlelight breakfast, light advent candles all week long, take a picture of a candle and use it as a screen saver on your phone or computer. Fill your day with the warm glow of candlelight.

ProcrastinateGive yourself permission to send your yearly greetings AFTER Christmas. Groundhogs Day, Valentine's Day or even Easter greetings can be a lovely surprise to family & friends. This "new tradition" can help you to savor the process of sending cards without the pressure of a self-imposed deadline.

Give alternative gifts:  Rather than spending hours on-line or in-line, consider giving a charitable gift in honor of someone you love. Research a cause or topic that is meaningful to that person and make a donation in their name.

Read Christmas stories:  Whether you have young children or not, pull out some favorite Christmas storybooks and read them aloud. Read slowly, gaze at the beautiful illustrations and reclaim a bit of childhood wonder along the way.

Consider a few of these Advent Speed Bumps (or create a few of your own!) that might help you to slow down and keep Christ's peace at the heart of your journey toward the manger.
(Whale Spouts - December 2014.)

Prayer for the Season:  A Motley Crew

Gracious God, 

A  blessed and motley crew gathered around the manger all those years ago, just as our blessed and motley crew journeys toward the manger today. 

Hear us, O Lord as we pray...
  For the shepherds
     who watch over us and tend to our needs,
  For the angels
     who remind us, "Do not be afraid,"
  For the magi
     who bring wisdom from afar,
  For the innkeepers
     who show hospitality to strangers,
  For the unnamed bystanders
     who come to bear witness with no need for recognition,
  For the Josephs
     who step out of their comfort zone to show love,
  And for the Marys
     who deliver God's love in unexpected places. 

We are the motley crew gathering yet again around the manger this year. May we have eyes to see that God dwells among us still.  The prince of peace is born - today and every day. Thanks be to God!

Sharon Seyfarth Garner
(Whale Spouts - 2017)

Belly of the Whale Spiritual Direction & Retreat Ministries
Rev. Sharon Seyfarth Garner, Director
216-224-7452 | Email | Website
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