Category Archives: Advent

Mt. Engadine Lodge Revisited

The snow started falling Thursday evening and kept falling and falling all through the night, the next day and Saturday.

When we drove away after the ploughs had cleared the road to Mt. Engadine Lodge, it was still snowing.

Saturday Morning

The world around us looked like a picture-perfect Christmas card. Fir trees laden with snow. Misty, mysterious clouds clinging to the mountain tops. White blankets of snow covering the ground, shrouding bushes and everything else in its pristine whiteness.

I went into Mt. Engadine Lodge to help out in the kitchen again for 3 days.

This time, my beautiful friend Jane joined me as my ‘Sous Chef’. She chopped and chatted, keeping the kitchen filled with her delightful presence as I baked and stirred and cooked and coerced the ancient oven to behave.

It was a delightful time filled with laughter, creativity, deep conversation, shared moments and the fun that comes with the familiarity of an almost 40-year friendship.

I am grateful.

Through the kitchen window.

The Solstice has passed and the earth has turned on its journey towards the sun.

The anticipation of the ChristChild’s birth shimmers in the air filled with the mystery and the majesty of this story that has held reign over the Christian world for over 2,000 years.

Bells ring. Children laugh and play in the snow. The sky is blue and freckled with white fluffy clouds drifting by in leisurely disarray.

From Where I Sit Today

A squirrel digs into the freshly fallen snow for the pieces of bread and nuts I scattered. He dashes across the lawn, his mouth full of the treats he’s uncovered. With one leap, he clears the fence, landing with aplomb in the bushes that line the river. Snow drifts to the ground and with a hop, skip and a jump, he scrambles up a tree. Leaps from one bough to the next landing on the branch of the tree behind. Quickly he darts down the branch and disappears into a hole in the tree’s trunk.

A special bottle to share after dinner is served, the dishes are cleared and the day is done.

He is home for Christmas.

May we all be home for Christmas this holiday season. May our hearts be full with treasured memories of Christmases past and the joy of being surrounded by those we love gathered around tables laden with delicacies of the season.

May we know peace, love, happiness and joy.

May your Christmas be blessed and bright. May your heart be filled with joy, contentment and peace in the New Year!

Merry Christmas everyone!

__________________________________________

My Guest Chef days at Mt Engadine have come to an end. Fortunately, J received his work visa back and is once again cooking up a storm at the Lodge.

What a wonderful opportunity to be gifted a chance to fill my bucket list and my heart with the experience.

Thank you everyone at Mt. Engadine Lodge for filling my heart with such beautiful memories. Your incredible graciousness, kindness and support made the experience one I shall treasure dearly.

 

2nd Sunday of Advent: Make Time For The Sacred

“What is precious
inside us does not
care to be known
by the mind
in ways that diminish
its presence.”
Excerpted from, The Winter of Listening, David Whyte

It is the second week of advent. As you wait for the sun’s return, as you listen for your deepest knowing to awaken from these long dark nights of winter, listen to your heart. Listen to the silence and winter calling you to know the otherness.

This is the time of endless nights growing darker. Of day’s light growing weaker in the soft approach of winter solstice, in the coming light of the child’s birth drawing near.

This is a time when our patience grows thin as we rush about, fighting crowds and traffic, endlessly hurrying towards one more checkmark on the list, one more item scratched off on the gifts we must buy.

Join me for a brief interlude of quiet reflection on this, the Second Sunday of Advent.

Second Sunday of Advent reflection and meditation

Make Time for the Sacred

It is the first Sunday of Advent. A time for reflection, for waiting, for anticipation.

Several years ago, I created an Advent contemplative course to celebrate this waiting for the light to return — Make Time for the Sacred.

This morning, I opened the file and listened and was again reminded of the importance of entering this time of anticipation with a loving, open heart.

I invite you to join me in this sacred season every Sunday between now and December 25th. I’ll be posting each week’s reflection on Sunday morning.

This week’s reading as well as the link to the recording of the reading and the questions can be accessed on my website – HERE

A Christmas Poem — Alleluia Chorus

Allelluia Chorus

Alleluia Chorus
©2018 Louise Gallagher

Darkness rests
still
is the night
lingering at the edge
of day
break
waiting
waiting to appear
to open up
hearts and minds
to the wonder
of a thousand tiny fragments
of light ascending
into heavenly hosts
of alleluia
exalting
in the beauty of spirits rising
in Love and Light.

Alleluia
Alleluia

The Christchild is coming.

Alleluia
Alleluia

Love is in the air.

And I wonder… what does God call me?

O Come. O Come Emmanuel.

The third Sunday of Advent has past. Christmas Eve awaits.

Anticipation hangs in the air, glittering with the shimmer of a thousand candles glowing in the night. And still we move further into the darkness. This season of ice, where cold has seized the birds’ wings. Where news of The Christchild’s coming rings forth across the land. Where yearning for the sun’s return rings in every heart.

I wait in expectation of the holy of holy nights when hope shall spring forth in a world of peace, hope, joy and Love.

And still, my heart is heavy. Our world so sorely in need of peace continues to gravitate towards pain, war,
suffering, killing. Our world so desperately in need of quiet rages in the agony of death.

And still I wait.

O Come! O Come! Emmanuel.

O Come! Bring forth peace, hope, love and joy.
Bring it on oh holy one. Bring it on.

I am ready. I am willing. I am open to peace, hope, love and joy.

And still I wait.

Frustration rises. Fear edges into my awakening.

Can we not see? Can we not know that we are killing one another with our guns and ammunition. Our
insistence that we are right, they are wrong. Our fighting for ground. For religious beliefs and social
acceptance.

Can we not see?

O Come! O Come! Emmanuel

And I am reminded. Peace begins with me. I cannot make peace when I hold onto anger, fear, frustration. I
cannot be peace when I make war against the world around me.

O Come O Come Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Oh Israel. To thee shall come Emmanuel

I remember as a child my mother humming this song. Her sweet clear voice echoing in the dark. I loved to
hear her sing. Loved to hear her voice.

And I breathe.

And hear the invitation to deepen my understanding of this season and its promise of peace, hope, love
and joy.

I breathe and feel its truth calling to my heart, this universal truth that speaks of our humanity — we are
born in the reflection of God, Yahweh, Allah. We embody God’s greatness, him or her or it – it doesn’t
matter what word we use for God. She does not listen to our words. Hhe hears our hearts. It sees our
truth.

We are limitless in our possibilities. We are magnificent. We are holy. We are divine.

This is not ‘God’ as limited by our language, but rather a concept of God that is unlimited through a
broadening of our vocabulary — The Divine. Creator. Yaweh. Almighty Father. The Divine Mother. King of Kings. Spirit. Lord. Allah. Buddha. Brahma. Divine Mystery.

So many names and yet, always the same message — to come home to Love. To be loving. To allow Love to be our answer in all things, all ways, all beings.

In this time of waiting, in this time of darkness I let go of the words I know and step into that place where I
broaden my ‘God vocabulary’. That place where I lean beyond the secular of my language to the Divine
presence embodied in the collective will of woman/man, a spirit that embraces me in wonder as I stand in Love.

In love, I breathe into my divine essence and come home to my heart.

In love, I come home to the One.

In love, I hear the Divine calling of my name as I embrace the beauty and the wonder of my human condition, this condition I share with each of you for we are each are the Divine Expression of Amazing Grace, no matter the names we use to call God, Creator, Yaweh, Allah and so many more.

And I wonder, I call God many things. What does God call me?

Child. Friend. Believer. One. What does God call me?

Perhaps the answer is… Home.

_____________________________

An Expectant Silence

expectant-silence-copy

An Expectant Silence  (An Advent Poem)
©2016 Louise Gallagher

In expectant silence
the world awaits
the coming
of a child
heralding
a world
of peace
hope
love
and
joy.

In the quiet
of dawning light
I await
morning
streaming rose and gold
threads of glory
filling the sky
with the promise
of a new day
born in the darkness
of the night

silence descends
light enters

I feel
the breath of God
awakening my soul
with fluttering wings
I become
an expectant oasis
of peace
hope
love
and
joy.

The Great ButterTart Bake-off

buttertartWe have entered the second week of Advent. A time of waiting, anticipation, contemplation.

The nights grow ever longer, the cold ever stronger.

And we wait.

When I was a child, I always knew Christmas was drawing near when both my parents disappeared into the kitchen and the pots and pans started clanking and the smells started wafting throughout our home.

Cinnamon. Nutmeg. Allspice. Cloves.

These are the smells of Christmas.

Flaky crusted tourtiere. Mince tarts and lemon squares.

Christmas cakes soaking in a bath of rum.

Buttertarts and sugar cookies. Lemon loaves and fresh baked bread.

These are the tastes.

Both my parents loved to cook, and at Christmas they always outdid themselves.

Sometimes, they even competed.

One Christmas, when I was in my twenties, I flew from my home in Alberta to my parent’s home in Germany.  I arrived at Frankfurt airport to be greeted by both  my parents. Before the hugs and kisses were barely finished my father and mother handed me a plate with two buttertarts. Looking at them, they seemed identical. Light flaky pastry cooked to golden brown. Edges perfectly crimped.

“What’s this?” I asked. I had no idea the hellstorm I was about to unleash.

“We want you to decide,” my mother told me. “Which one is better? Your dad doesn’t put walnuts in. I do.”

I still don’t know what caused that year to become, The Great ButterTart Bake-off, but no matter how vehemently I insisted I thought they both looked perfect, and with or without walnuts was always a personal preference, they were adamant that I make a judgement.

I copped out.

I don’t like buttertarts I told them.

Yes you do my mother insisted.

And the war was on.

Me insisting I didn’t.

She insisting I did.

My father, quickly recognizing the state of affairs was close to bubbling over into a boiling mess of angry words and hurt feelings, bundled us up into the car for the 2 hour drive home. As we sped south on the Autobahn, my mother kept asking me to try the buttertarts.  I kept refusing with a petulant, I don’t like them.

No matter the distance nor time between us,  my mother and I still knew how to engage in our most dysfunctional patterns without even taking a bite out of the possibility of something different.

It was our way. From childhood to adulthood, my mother would ask me to do something ‘her way’. I would insist on doing it mine, regardless of where I was or whether I thought her way was a good idea, or not.

Neither my father nor my mother make buttertarts anymore. My father passed away 20 years ago and my mother no longer has a kitchen. She lives in a lodge where meals are served and cooking by residents is not on the menu. Plus, at 94, her arthritic fingers cannot hold a rolling pin nor take the pain of cutting out the little pastry shells for the tarts.

 

I miss the smells of Christmas that permeated our home when I was growing up. The busyness in the kitchen. My father rattling pans, my mother cleaning up after him. I miss the lemon loaves and cherry cakes, the gingerbread men and shortbread cookies. And most of all, I miss my mother’s buttertarts. Because, even though my father’s were good, I prefer my buttertarts with walnuts.

Namaste.