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Guest Author: 
Jerry S. Kennell

Wonder. This time of year we are apt to use the phrase, “sense of wonder.” In a capital “W” sense, not like, “I wonder about this and I wonder about that.” Wonder is something ineffable, something more. As adults, we often struggle with the loss of that sense of Wonder. We struggle to encounter the beginner’s mind, the child’s uncluttered engagement; the unfettered awe at all things bright and beautiful, all things great and small. We long to get back to the garden.

Guest Author: 
The Rev. Joan Dunn

A lightning bolt of searing pain traveled from my head into my neck, then all the way down to my toes. I saw a bright light. Was this the bright light people talk about? People talk about before they … I think I passed out.

It was 1999. After what seemed to be a minor car accident, I continued to experience pain. Diagnosed as having a hyper-extension of the neck—whiplash—my doctor recommended analgesics and hot/cold packs. After many months, I sought comfort from a registered chiropractor.  The pain I described above followed a series of neck manipulations. 

Guest Author: 
Kathleen Hirsch

Patience is difficult.

This week, I wait for my son to return home from college for the holidays. I wait with a tender eagerness I could not have imagined as a pregnant woman twenty years ago.  My pregnancy had been a season of bliss—until it wasn’t. I was heavy and tired, and he was two weeks late. I wanted to “get on with it,” little knowing that parenting is more like writing an epic poem than it is a set of tidy tasks to be accomplished.

Both parenting and a writing life dedicated to the work of the creative, have taught me most of what I know about patience. As a writer, I know that to rush inspiration is tantamount to killing it. As a parent, I’ve learned that to hurry a child past the point of actual development is profoundly wounding.

And yet.

Guest Author: 
Fr. River Damien Sims

As I have journeyed through the past years in San Francisco, I have come to see my life as a pilgrimage. For me, I am following Jesus into Galilee. 

Each day as I walk the streets, I am on pilgrimage. I am on a journey with “Joker,” the twenty-year-old drug user and sex worker who was kicked out of his home because he was gay. I am on pilgrimage with the transgender friends who work Polk Street making money to survive and pay for their hormones. I am journeying with those who are very comfortable materially, but are so empty spiritually.

Each year I meet five or six hundred new people, and I walk with them for a part of their journey. Novelist and poet Michael Ondaatje expressed it well:

Guest Author: 
Liz Budd Ellmann, MDiv

My mother died two weeks ago. I am in grief. Thank you for walking with me. Even though my father, three brothers, and I witnessed my mother’s frail body fading and were able to say our goodbyes, it was a shock.

A lot has gone on. My mind has not settled. My heart hurts. Yet I want to share with you some snippets of this experience that have been meaningful to me, in hopes of reminding all of us of the preciousness of life, particularly during this sacred season of gathering with family and friends.

Guest Author: 
The Rev. Lyn G. Brakeman

It seems odd to be grateful for aging, yet I am, because aging calls me to do things I might not have done even five years ago. 

What stretches me, quite literally, is my yoga practice. We are instructed to stretch our bodies to our "edge," but not beyond, not to create pain. Now, what a temptation such instruction wards off!

My culture would tell me to push—do more, be more. My ego would say, show off.  I’ve done this most of my life. Push. Push. Push. This is what my Lord’s Prayer warns me against—temptation that I pray God will lead me away from. All my life I’ve prayed this, and all my life I’ve pretty much failed to hear its wisdom. Aging forces mindfulness if you listen and heed. 

Guest Author: 
Janice Lynne Lundy

It was winter in Michigan. The snow was piled high. Weeks of freezing temperatures and chilling winds were taking their toll on me and I was beginning to feel the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder. The mornings bode dark and heavy. I felt the same way inside myself.

One morning, lying in bed, listening to the wind whistle through the trees, I simply could not muster any enthusiasm for the day ahead. I knew I should feel grateful for the many blessings in my life, for I was one of the “lucky ones.” I had a good and bountiful life. Logically, I had so much to be thankful for but, on an ever-growing number of “blue” days, I couldn’t seem to access much gratitude.

Guest Author: 
Christine Sine

Earlier this year I discovered the Japanese art of Kintsugi, the art of mending broken pottery with lacquer resin sprinkled with powdered gold. The technique visibly incorporates the repair into the new piece, highlighting the breakage instead of disguising it. The process usually results in something more beautiful and often more valuable than the original.

I see the same kind of beauty in this rock. The salt has deposited along the fractures in the rock, creating magnificent patterns that would not have formed otherwise.

Guest Author: 
Fr. River Damien Sims

"The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It's our handle on what we can't see. The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd. By faith, we see the world called into existence by God's word, what we see created by we don't see."

— Hebrews 11:1–3, The Message

A friend recently observed that after twenty years I still have the same positive approach to working with street youth, and that I always seem hopeful. He asked me, "What keeps you going?" For me it is a simple answer that began when I was twelve years old—faith in Jesus of Nazareth.

Guest Author: 
Katherine Hampton

In this season of gratitude, it is often easy to come up with the right answer to the question: What are you thankful for? Things like family, health, stability, and community quickly come to mind as classic answers. But what if we dug a little deeper? What gratitude can we find in the growing—often painful—parts of our lives?

I have recently had the opportunity to explore the Enneagram with both my coworkers and my family. It has been a profound learning experience, and I have been thankful for the opportunity to understand myself better, as well as the people I hold dear. More than that, I have been surprisingly thankful for our differences.

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