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
is the night
lingering at the edge
of day
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
in the beauty of spirits rising
in Love and Light.


The Christchild is coming.


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

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

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


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

In expectant silence
the world awaits
the coming
of a child
a world
of peace

In the quiet
of dawning light
I await
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

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.


Waiting for Christmas

DSCF0639It is that holy time of year again. A time when here in the northern hemisphere, we await the coming of the light after the long dark nights of winter. It is a time when the Christian world awaits with expectant breath the coming of a child. A time when fir trees are adorned with glistening lights and carolers sing out to passers-by and children smile at snow falling and presents piling up under the tree. It is a time to celebrate the sacred nature of our world, the miracle of life, the waning of darkness soon to become light.

This is a time for renewal, for pause, for welcoming in the light. It is a time to make room for gifts, the gift of life, the gift of love, peace, hope and joy.

It is a time to celebrate the human condition in all its manifestations here on earth. It is a time to celebrate the coming into being – of not just the Christ child, but of all of us.

This is a time of awakening. A time to make room for the spiritual aspects of our nature, the holy essence of our being human. It is a time to slow down, to live in the moment, to appreciate the small things of life unfolding in wonder every day. From the delicate light and warmth of a candle flame to the quiet stillness of the darkness just before the dawn, this is a time to prepare, to make ready, to enter into the anticipation of life coming into being and of light following the darkness.

In this time of waiting and awakening, I invite you to take a deep breath in. In. Out. Breathe. Let your eyes gently close. Let your jaw relax, the muscles of your face soften.

Breathe in. Feel the coolness of the air as it enters your body.

Breathe out. Feel the warmth of your breath as you exhale. Feel the air upon your skin, the softness of its caress.

Feel the world around you, growing quiet, settle into peacefulness and breathe.


Imagine you are standing beneath a star lit sky high upon a hill. Around you the world spreads out in the darkness. Above you a blanket of stars glitter in the velvety dark sky.

Imagine you are all alone yet connected to the millions of others who stand as you do, alone upon a hill beneath the star littered blanket of night.

Imagine, as you breathe in, they breathe out.

Imagine, as you breathe out, they breathe in.

Imagine you are all one breath, connected through this one air you share and breathe into, connected to the millions of others breathing with you. This air that nourishes your body, is the air that nourishes theirs.

And as you stand, breathing as one, you spread your arms wide, raise your face to the moon and stars above and whisper,

“I am here. I am willing. Let the night and the moon and the stars give way to what is to come. I am waiting for the light. In my waiting I open my heart to the beauty and the wonder unfolding all around me. I open my arms to receive the gifts of this season of peace, hope, love and joy. I am waiting.”

We are all waiting.


Let your body feel the peace, hope, love and joy of this wondrous time of year flowing all around and within you. Feel your heart soften, your breath deepen, your mind open wide.

Sit and breathe in the beauty all around, open your heart and mind and soul and body to receive the gifts of the Universe shimmering in the light of a million stars showering your heart in Love.

Breathe. And be one in joyous expectation of the coming of the light.

In this time of waiting, let Love be your companion. Let Love light your way. Let peace be your path from darkness into light.

Now  Breathe. Quietly.

And in this moment of quiet, let a song arise within your heart and you wait patiently for the sun to return, for a child to be born.

Let us each be the light in the darkness awakening for all the world to know peace, hope, love and joy.


Expectant Silence  (An Advent Poem)

In expectant silence
the world awaits
the coming
of a child
a world
of peace

In the quiet
of dawning light
I await
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 the Divine
rising up within me

awakening my soul
with fluttering wings
and with each breath

I become an oasis
of peace


On the way to making memories worth holding onto

photo (27)The kitchen sink clogged up at 4pm. By 5 C.C. had it unclogged. Except for the u-joint under the sink.

“I’ll just take it apart, clean it and you’ll be all set within 10 minutes,” he said. Confidently.

Three minutes later, his exclamation indicated something was wrong. Drastically wrong. As in, he broke the pipe wrong and we’d have no kitchen sink for dinner.

Twenty-three guests were arriving in an hour and I was minus a kitchen sink.


But then, there’s always the bathtub which became the home for dirty pots and ladles, cutlery and serving dishes.

In the end, the cauliflower never got made, and forget about the extra yam dish. I didn’t have another pot to use, and not enough time to cook it anyway. The hour spent clearing the drain had completely disrupted my timetable. I had to go with what I had and hope for the best.

And it was, the best… a night of fun, of laughter, hilarity and charm. We ate and drank and sat around the table and told stories and shared in that thing that makes Christmas such a special time of year — community.

photo (26)We ranged in age from 19 to 75. From still at University to long past retirement, we shared points of view and points of contention, from one guests stories of his recent experiences in basic training in the military, to another’s stories of running a billion dollar corporation. We talked about homelessness and homes, education and travel, wine and cheese and everything else in between.

And then, after dinner, the guitars and drums came out and we sang and laughed and then most of the guests left and C.C. and a crew of younger folk sat down to play games and I went off to bed, hoping that tomorrow the plumber would arrive and I would have a kitchen sink to work in.

No such luck. The plumber worked with C.C. and they had it cleared but once he left, it didn’t stay that way. The problem was, when C.C. peeled the mound of potatoes needed to mash up for 21 people, the peels had gone down the garborator and gotten stuck. Really stuck. And then, they swelled and while they’d moved them down the pipe, they got stuck en masse further down.

Draino. Snake. Running water. No luck. We’d have to wait for tomorrow when the plumber was scheduled to return.

What to do. What to do.

C.C. and I decided on a movie. We switched on Pay per View, dialled in what we wanted to watch and cuddled up on the leather sofa in the den.

And that’s where we were when a resounding crash was heard from the environs of the living room.

“What’s Ellie into now?” C.C. asked as he got up to take a look.

“You’d better come see this,” he called out a a few moments later.

photo (23)I wasn’t expecting it. I definitely didn’t think it could be anything so… dramatic.

But there Ferdinand the Christmas tree lay. On his side. Fallen over. Totalled. Ornaments strewn across the floor. pink and rose shards littered across the hardwood and onto the Chinese rug. The tree we’d decorated en famille just a few short nights ago, had fallen over.

It was a mess. Ellie was nowhere to be seen. Neither was Marley, the Great Cat, in sight either. Had they?… No. No way. Ellie’s too old and Marley has never shown any interest in the tree. Ever.

It must have been the gold beads strung across the boughs. They were only on the front side which meant the tree was front heavy. Must have been too much weight.


Nothing to do but clean it up. And start all over.

Carefully we untangled the lights and boughs and de-robed the tree of all its ornaments and glitter. C.C. mopped up the water while I swept up the glass.

It didn’t pay to think about it. The only thing to do was to get it done.

Bonus! As we’d decorated on Monday night, the girls had suggested we needed more lights. I didn’t feel like going out to the store mid-task so we’d made do. Now, I figured I may as well go and get more lights. 

I went out and bought two more strings to add to the glow. Beauty!

And then today, C.C. officially got the sink unplugged and now, the house is back in order. The dishes are done and put away, the table leafs removed, the extra chairs tucked away until Christmas dinner. The tree glows. The sideboard is cleared of dirty glasses and the kitchen is decluttered.

It’s funny. Not having a sink didn’t detract from the festivities and the tree falling over didn’t really rob it of its beauty.

The memories of decorating the tree together remain. The laughter, teasing, conversation and good times shared continue to resonate throughout the house.

Disasters happen. It’s not their happening that makes the difference, it’s what we hold onto in their wake that measures the value of each day, that fill every breath with love — or not.

We decorated the tree last week and had early Christmas dinner so that my daughter could share in the love and joy of Christmas at home. The memories live on. They continue to cast a beautiful light in my heart of all that is so special at this time of year. Family. Love. Community. Peace. Harmony and Joy.

And as to the rest… well, that’s just the stuff that happens on the way to making memories worth remembering.


Seeds of possibility. Awaken and Shine.

shutterstock_118318609All life contains the seeds of possibility. It’s just, when we’re busy staring into the past, looking back at what went wrong, or what we can’t fix, or what we can’t do, or what others have done to us that we don’t like, our eyes are closed to the light of possibility breaking through the darkness. We see only our fears.

Here in the Northern Hemisphere, the nights lengthen and the warmth of the sun weakens with every passing moment as the shadows stretch across the snow drawing heaven to earth on the far horizon. In the dark winter nights we huddle around the hearth waiting for the coming of light, waiting for the dawn to break across the horizon and set us free from the darkness all around.

Advent approaches and with it we are invited to step into the sacred, to delve into the mystery and wonder of a child’s birth over 2,000 years ago. A birth that continues to resonate throughout mankind with its power to remind us that we are each and everyone of us, holy, sacred and divine.

15th Century mystic, Meister Eckhart wrote, “What good is it to me if Mary gave birth to the Son of God fourteen hundred years ago and I do not also give birth to the Son of God in my time and in my culture? We are all meant to be Mothers of God.”

As I meditated this morning, thoughts of the sacredness of my human condition wrapped themselves around my thinking, challenging me to step out of my meditative state into wonderment and awe. What if, I truly am the divine reflection of amazing grace? What if, we are each and every one of us the embodiment of divine grace enfleshed in the sacred call to be of service to one another through the very act of our being Mothers of God? What if we truly are the expression of the African word  Ubuntu? –  I am what I am because of who we all are. I am because of you.

And what if it is my fear of letting go of who I am to become all that I am because of you that holds me back from becoming all that I am? What if I don’t trust you to be there in all your glory, worthiness, Love? What if I don’t trust you to be your own unique expression of the Divine on earth? What if I don’t trust in the divine nature of Love and its infinite capacity to support me, to stand with me, to be with me in every breath, through every moment?

What if my fear of stepping into the glory and sacredness of my human condition is all I need to overcome to embrace my holy nature, to embody my divine grace, to express my sacred soul and birth my own unique expression of Love?

What if I let go of my fear of being sacred, divine, holy and breathe into the darkness to find the light of Love shimmering on the far horizon, drawing me closer to heaven on earth?

What if, I am, we are, each and every one of us, the Divine expression of amazing grace calling us to awaken from the darkness and shine?





arebecause you are?