Saturday, November 4, 2023

Small Things - The Gratitude Edition

 "Life is not, for most of us, a pageant of splendor, but is made up of many small things, rather like an old fashioned piecework quilt. No two people have the same, but we all have our own, whether it be listening to Beethoven's fifth with a beloved friend, or seeing a neighbor at the back door with a basket of white dahlias. Or after a long, hard day, having the family say, "That was a good supper."


With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I thought it might be good to focus on gratitude and thankfulness in preparation for this lovely idea.  Here are some ideas to cultivate a spirit of gratitude

In no particular order, here are six small things that inspired me this week;

1. Light A Candle, from, is a beautiful online activity that encourages thoughtfulness and thankfulness. 

2. Printable Thankful Dice - roll the dice and share what you're thankful for!

3. Gratitude Stones - I love this idea! You could set them out in a pretty basket along with a few chalk pens and allow people to reflect and add to the basket of gratefulness throughout the day!

4. Gratitude ABC's Printable - This would be great for the littles in your life, and for the not so littles, too!

5. Gratitude Scavenger Hunt - This would be a fun family activity after everyone has enjoyed the big meal.

6. Free printable Gratitude Journal!

Friday, November 3, 2023

Fading Light

"Gray November is the most beautiful of seasons"

The light is changing. I've noticed it for a few weeks  now. The sun sets earlier and rises later. But every morning, and again in the afternoon, there is a certain slant of light that glimmers all through the house, casting its magic upon everything it touches. Simple beauty at no cost.

We turn the clocks back this weekend, and darkness will come even earlier. There are some who do not care for daylight savings time. They draw up petitions and rally for support to appeal to the government to end it. I guess in some way I understand, and I'm certain that I could easily live without it. But personally, I rather prefer the curtain of darkness that is drawn earlier in the evening come mid-Autumn, just as winter takes its first strong grip. I'm tempted to slow down, gain a few pounds and hibernate, but inevitably, life calls us to rise and keep going, and we must find a way to trudge through the darkness and make our own light!

The Norwegians know how to brighten the darkening season, with a whimsical concept known as koselig, which is best described in images: curling up under a wool blanket in front of a fire, drinking wine by candlelight with friends, sharing a home cooked meal with family, enjoying a good book with a mug of steaming hot chocolate, and sweaters, LOTS of sweaters! It's basically "chestnuts roasting on an open fire", all season long.

You can always make it a point to rise early to catch the sun on a brisk walk before the busyness of the day begins, or perhaps during your lunch break. But inevitably the night comes and the cold descends. The change of light in this season is here to stay, so we might as well make the most of it.  And with some help of the cozy little concept of koselig, there are a few ways you can do just that.

This season sets the stage for the slow enjoyment of food and friends. In Norway friends and family gather in each other's homes during this time of year, enjoying simple, homemade dinners in the comfort and intimacy of a private, small space. Lights are low and candles are lit, as loved ones enjoy one another's company while wine bottles are passed and a wholesome meal is consumed. Perhaps you could borrow from this idea and organize a weekly dinner night, rotating between the homes of two or three friends, or open up your home once a week and invite friends and family to join you!

With temperatures dropping, once you are home for the evening, you most likely don't want to get out again. So here's a bit of inspiration to kindle some warmth and light into your evening. Heat up some water for a cup of tea, put on your warmest sweater, light a few candles and turn up some relaxing music. Then wrap your legs in a warm wool blanket and read a few chapters from a favorite book. It doesn't take much to create this cozy scene for yourself, and makes for a truly lovely evening at home.

It's easy to find plenty to do in the warmer months, when the outdoors beckon. But the darker, colder days of autumn and early winter is the perfect time for hobbies you can enjoy in the warmth and comfort of home. Why not learn to knit or crochet? Or perhaps you'd like to try out a few new recipes, or learn to bake bread from scratch? Puzzles are another fun activity to enjoy this time of year, a hobby I personally love. My husband even built me a puzzle tray so that I could keep the puzzle out as I am working on it without taking up table space. The tray can easily be moved from room to room, and shared together!

Stay warm, friends! 

Thursday, November 2, 2023

The Present Moment Is Eternity: The Liturgical Year

Beginning November 6 and on each subsequent Monday in November, I will be posting a weekly series of  on Advent, which begins on Sunday, December 3. 

Following is a post I have shared several times before, but for those who are not familiar with Advent which is the first day of the Liturgical Year, or as I refer to it, the Year of the Lord, I find it helpful. 

Many years ago I stumbled upon a book in the public library, Holidays and Holy Nights by Christopher Hill, who first introduced me, a wholly Protestant girl, to The Liturgical Year, or as I prefer to call it, The Year of the Lord. Though I was not raised Catholic, in reading this book I found a beauty and rhythm in The Liturgical Year that was appealing, even comforting. Recently, as I’ve begun working my way through the spiritual practices, I was reminded again of this lovely book and the in particular, the following passage. In my efforts to slow the pace of life, these words are a balm for my hurried soul, and what started me on my journey to a slower, sacred, and more meaningful way of living. 

"The whole point of the Year of the Lord is that there is more than one way to experience time. The understanding of time that most people live with is only one way to experience it. We could call it the worldly or profane understanding of time. It is an image of time as a straight horizontal line with a middle point, where we stand, called The Present. This line is always moving past us like a conveyor belt. On the left is the Past, where present moments constantly flow and immediately cease to exist. On the right is The Future, which is always moving toward the Present, but never actually arrives. 

This model is almost completely abstract. In other words, we never actually experience any of it. The present is gone before we are aware of it, and the past and future lie outside our grasp. Anxiety is built into it. Each human possesses only a limited quantity of this kind of time, and it is constantly passing us by, never to return. 

This view of time is not necessarily bad. It can be a useful tool. All human progress, in some sense, depends on it. But its not the whole or most important part of the picture. It is not the way we experience time in the deepest parts of ourselves, on the level of our hearts, and it is not the way God experiences time. Above and below this abstract, one-dimensional timeline, is well, reality. This is the world we actually experience, in which we “live and move and have our being”, as Paul said. The word “I Am” as God introduced himself to Moses. The present moment is eternity. 

For most of human history, people experienced time very different. The pattern was not a line, but a circle or cycle. The cycles of sun, moon and stars; of the seasons of the life, death and birth of plants, animals and human beings. Everything went away, but then in some way everything always came back. We can be sure that people living with this image of time still got anxious about things, but anxiety wasn’t built into the system itself. 

The image of the cycle contains a lot of truth. It expands the one-dimensional timeline into a two-dimensional circle and so takes in a lot more of reality. it is less abstract than the line, truer to experience and incorporates the fundamental patterns of creation. Years, seasons, months, weeks, days and hours all come from this model of time. Birth, life, death and rebirth are all in it. What it doesn’t include is the possibility for growth. In this cycle, the more things change, the more they stay the same. 

The Year of the Lord, the Christian understanding of time, is a variation on the cycle. The timeline, as we’ve said, is a one-dimensional model. The circle is two dimensional. The Year of the Lord is three-dimensional. It is modeled on the spiral, a circle that grows outward and upward. It grows in a vertical direction as well as horizontally, combining the straight line of the past, present and future with the height and depth of eternity. Like a spiraling tornado, it sucks one-dimensional time up into three dimensional reality. It uses time to break us out of time. It hallows and sacralizes time and transforms it into eternity. Year, season month, week, day and hour all concentric circles that lead deeper and deeper into the center; the present moment, where we live in the presence of God. The present is the Presence. And the present time ripples outward again, connecting us with all time and all the cosmos."

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

This Is November

Frost on the rooftops,
Dew on the grass,
Leaves drifting down,
Wherever we pass;
Wet, windy weather,
Skies often gray,
Leaves piling up
Though raked every day.

Ice on the puddles,
Trees almost bare;
Mornings are chilly,
Breath on the air.
Squirrels are still busy,
Where nuts can be found,
Hiding their treasures
In hollows around.

Darkness comes early,
It's cozy indoors
With apples and popcorn,
And books to explore.
The harvest is in
And all stored away:
Watch for the snowflakes
To come any day.