On the 3rd Day of Christmas, My True Love gave to Me:

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…hope.

In reading today’s reflection from the Morneau book, I read this statement: Pessimism can sweep through the human heart.

I have not felt that as much as I have in this past year. One thing after another, beginning with David Bowie and Alan Rickman and most recently with George Michael and Carrie Fisher. I can’t list all of the names that have affected me this year, so, so many, none more important and felt than my mother-in-law who passed away suddenly in June. And then there’s the election. This year has been a lot; too much in fact.

In our home, everything is clouded with the loss of my children’s last grandparent, the only one my youngest two knew.

It’s been a hard balance to maintain, keeping things hopeful for my kids while continuing to honor the memory of their grandmother. I could talk for hours about her, and in the next few months I will talk some more.

This is our first Christmas.

One of the things that was difficult for me was Christmas shopping. I’d see something and think that it was perfect for her, and then I’d remember and walk on by. It was too much.

Then I embraced it.

She loved cardinals. We always gave her a cardinal ornament for Christmas and often also for her birthday in January, so instead of walking past the cardinals, I bought two for our tree. I thought it would upset my husband, but he said we should hang them near the top.

I also went to our local Irish import shop for a Celtic necklace for my close friend, and while I was there, I noticed the candy set out for Christmas. I decided to buy a selection to give to the kids in honor of their grandmother and her homeland, and the accent they knew so well and loved.

It is only recently that I understand that word, bittersweet – the simultaneous joy and sad; the pessimism with the path to hope that we only need to find, to shine a light on the dark.

Meditation: Does too much reading of history or current events threaten your hope? What are some ways of sustaining hope in a world wrestling with so much darkness?

From Daily Reflections for Advent & Christmas: Waiting in Joyful Hope 2016-17 by Bishop Robert F. Morneau

The current events of these last few months have been straining. Is there too much reading of history or current events? I don’t know. History lets us see how far we’ve come, and gives us the knowledge that we will overcome all of this, including our new president, which is the most worrisome thing I’ve had to face in these last couple of months, but I’ve seen the hope in the pages of my friends, in Robert Reich and Ezra Klein, in Connie Schultz, and in the recent remembrances and quotations of Carrie Fisher, a strong woman who took her faults and failings and showed us how to live with them and become better despite or even because of them.
We are wrestling with darkness, but whether we light a candle as we curse the darkness, we are still assured that the sun will rise in the morning, and that is our cue to rise as well; to rise up. Hope springs eternal because hope is eternal.

On the 2nd Day of Christmas, My True Love gave to Me:

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​…coping is not an easy thing.

The last two days of reflections and meditations from the Advent/Christmas book both had to do with death and our reactions to death.

I must admit, I’m not a big fan of death. I’ve always had emotional issues with it, and while my faith in G-d and eternal life with Jesus is strong, I can’t help but feel an emptiness of what might come. It’s scary.

I’ve been devastated when some loved ones have died. I think the ones that hurt the most are the ones that come out of the blue. My father was ill before he died, and it was still sad and upsetting and I feel his loss today, but when my mother died suddenly eighteen months later, I was devastated. I cried every day. The only reason I’m not crying every day since the death of my  mother in law in June I’m sure is because of my anti-anxiety meds. I feel her loss deeply.

In the last two days, I’ve lost two of the most significant inspirations in my life: George Michael and Carrie Fisher. They come at the end of a year that saw so many iconic, influential, important to my life and th lives of others die, sudden and out of the blue.

Growing up, George Michael was part of the second British invasion that I was fortunate enough to witness in the 80s during my high school and college years. it was the beginning of a lot of self-awareness on my part, much of which I didn’t become really aware of until recently. His stepping into who he was and holding that position proudly said it all. His talent and his kindness were not easily matched. We are reading stories this week of his philanthropy that no one knew about, donating money, working in a homeless shelter, helping in his quiet way, the way we’re all supposed to do it, without a big shining spotlight. I will always be a fan.

Carrie Fisher was so much: a bridge from the old, glamorous Hollywood that my mother remembered with her not only famous, but iconic parents, Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher. She was a princess to many of us that saw Star Wars for the first time, not knowing what to expect, but her princess-ness was not with wands or sceptors, tiaras or gowns. She was a leader, she was strong, she was independent, and she was all those things in her real life, her non Leia life. She inspired me with her honesty, most recently chastising someone on Twitter for debating whether or not she aged gracefully. Everything about Carrie Fisher was graceful and exuberant in her own way of being exuberant. She had a wonderful sense of humor and a laugh that was infectious. She inspired me as a strong woman, a woman who spoke her mind regardless of the reaction of others, her love and loyalty to her family and close friends, her mental health honesty and struggle and what she still overcame and struggled to overcome, and of course, her writing. As a fellow writer, I saw so much of her wit and talent, and I try to emulate that.

Neither of them were family, but they are loved and missed as family. There is a pain in my heart for them; for me. They’re fine, wherever they are now, but I mourn and try to figure out how to do better using their influence as a guide.

“…​the news that arises from the mystery of the resurrection, the news that love and life are stronger than death.”

“…To be complete, joy must be shared.”

From Daily Reflections for Advent & Christmas: Waiting in Joyful Hope 2016-17 by Bishop Robert F. Morneau