Strictly speaking, the Christmas story we know from hymns is a mash-up of gospel accounts in Matthew and Luke. Both start with angels but Matthew has no interest in Mary. That writer’s priority is connecting Jesus to ancient prophecies by establishing his royal lineage, so the Matthew narrative focuses on Joseph (only paternal bloodlines counted then). He also gives us the wandering star and wise men from the east.
Passing out acorn squash this week at Evanston Producemobile's first monthly distribution, I felt a conflicting mix of emotion: the sense of fulfillment that always accompanies being of service to others, but also a sobering sadness. According to Greater Chicago Food Depository, 12% to 14% of Evanston families are considered "food insecure," meaning they don't know where their next meal is coming from. Though I already knew the facts, I hadn't fully grasped the scope of the need until I met some of those represented in the statistics face-to-face.
As Christmas approaches, there's so much emphasis on light and joy, that to be aware of darkness and shadow, can seem...well, wrong. But if we try to repress feelings of sadness or anger, the partying, shopping, libating and feasting often exacerbates feelings of loneliness and isolation.
Certainly, Christmas is about anticipating the joy of new birth, celebrating new possibilities, and exalting the divine within. But ask any woman who's been pregnant: Birth can entail an intense blend of joy and wonder, mixed with pain and worry.
With all the hype over Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and a half-billion-dollar lotto jackpot, it's easy to bemoan the consumerism surrounding Christmas. Seriously though, grumbling and grousing over it feels more Scrooge-like than joyful, doesn't it?
One of my holiday traditions is watching “Home for the Holidays,” starring Anne Bancroft, Holly Hunter and Robert Downey, Jr. It depicts one family’s hilariously disastrous Thanksgiving weekend. Childhood rivalries rage. Latent dysfunctions emerge. Carved turkey flies. And yet with every calamity we see potential for healing, understanding and connection.
Half-awake, I glance at the clock and feel awash in gratitude as I remember this is one of those rare mornings I get to sleep in. But at 7 a.m. on the dot, a construction crew starts a tuck-pointing operation on the building next door. It involves a crew of 10 workmen shouting instructions as they lower a clattering scaffold into position directly across from my window. Then, 15 feet from the pillow covering my head, the guy on the rigging fires up a power grinder. It sounds like a chainsaw screaming.
The story of Jesus’ visit to Mary and Martha’s home never fails to resonate. I see Martha slaving in the kitchen, muttering under her breath between passive-aggressive sighs, while Mary and Jesus chat amiably in the next room. “You are worried and upset about many things,” Jesus counsels Martha, “ but few things are needed—or indeed only one.” The response seems so unfair…somebody has to fix supper. Why should Martha get stuck with all the work?
Have you noticed conversations about politics getting more intense as Election Day approaches? I know a family whose siblings, though having lived on different continents, have remained close for more than three decades...until this week. Apparently, tensions are so high that a long-held tradition of gathering for Thanksgiving is being derailed.
Ruth is a faithful truth student with a rich and consistent spiritual practice. She's also very health- and fitness-minded. She's an experienced, safety-conscious biker with multiple cross-country rides under her helmet. Why then, would the universe conspire to hospitalize her with a broken elbow and fractured hip incurred in a biking mishap? Is she holding something in consciousness that attracted this "opportunity for healing?"
Newsweek’s cover story last week about a neuroscientist’s near-death experience includes a captivating telling of a fantastical realm where love and beauty express at magnitudes far exceeding human perception. Though heavily laced with imagery reminiscent of a CNG-animated 3D blockbuster, Dr.