Reflection Masthead
Issue 164 - Wonder and Witness - December 2017
May Christmas surprise you this year, with wonder. We reflect on an extraordinary retreat experience, the Ignatian Twilight Retreat, and observations of the ordinary. May we all receive special Christmas gifts of peace and tranquility.
Wonder and Witness
       Last week's Ignatian Twilight Retreats invited participants to enter prayerfully into the wonder of the anticipated birth of Jesus as recorded in Holy Scripture. We pondered, with Mary, "The mighty one has done great things for me" and explored the wonders of the world through art, the wonders of hope throughout the Scriptures, and the wonders of the cosmos and how we might witness to the love of God who deigned that the Savior would be born in our world as a tiny child to Mary and Joseph.
ITR Title Slide
       French Jesuit paleontologist, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, caught up in the wonder of the universe, perceived the fire of Christ's heart as the invigorating force in all of creation. Teilhard prayed: "Lord, lock me up in the deepest depths of your heart; and then, holding me there, burn me, purify me, set me on fire, sublimate me, till I become utterly what you would have me be, through the utter annihilation of my ego..." *
       Participating in a spiritual retreat, we may be transported to a space of wonder in the soul - perhaps not as passionately as Teilhard - but a sacred space of peace and tranquility. Our daily prayer and contemplation of Mary's humility and the Christ Child's innocent glow and Joseph's trust and providence might diminish our anxious cares in today's troubled world. (Remember, Jesus was born into a troubled world).
       Friend and poet, Angela Alaimo O'Donnell, in her book Still Pilgrim: Poems, meditates on ordinary life with remarkable poetic insight. She bears witness to wonders some of us would never notice. As the back cover states: "While we are all in constant motion, 'hurtling through the universe.' we travel best by gravitating toward the stillness of belonging, attuned not only to who we are, but also, more importantly, for whom and in whom we are."** Let us, too, as we are hurtling through the universe, pause and enter into the stillness of belonging - our belonging in the stable with Mary, Joseph, and the Christ Child.           --by Jan
* Pierre Teilhard de Chardin: Writings Selected with an Introduction by Ursula King. Maryknoll: Orbis, 1999. p.109.
** Angela Alaimo O'Donnell, Still Pilgrim: Poems. Brewster: Paraclete, 2017

Last week, at work, I went into the break room. The television was tuned to one of the cable-news networks, where a group of folks were arguing about the latest rumors and allegations.  When I returned to the break room several hours later, the same network showed a different group of talking heads, still arguing about the same rumors (still unconfirmed) and the same allegations (still unproven).
Church historian Mark A. Noll writes that his spirits have been lifted by several books that share a "studied avoidance of the immediate, the sensational, the transitory, or the attention-lusting polemical." What an apt description of so much that I find on social media: "the immediate, the sensational, the transitory, or the attention-lusting polemical"! (And, as I found in my company's break room, in a great deal of what passes for journalism these days, as well.)
Because of this, I especially noted the printed greeting in a Christmas card we received: "May the tranquility of the season be a special part of the holidays for you."
That is my wish for you this Christmas. Yes, I wish you joy and peace and hope. But, first of all, I
wish you tranquility. May you find a quiet space in our hectic world, a space to pause and ponder. May you find time - make the time - to go for a leisurely walk under the starlit sky, or pause to listen, really listen, to some good music, not just have noise playing in the background.
May you slow down, take some deep breaths, and pay close attention to the food you are eating, the child on your lap, or the winter weather. May the gift of tranquility be yours, and may that tranquility open your soul to the other wondrous gifts of this season.

                        --by Bill

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Copyright (c) 2017 Soul Windows Ministries


Bill Howden and Jan Davis
Soul Windows Ministries



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