Dare boldly

A blog by Louise Gallagher


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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.


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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.


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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.

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.

Together.

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.

Namaste

 
Expectant Silence  (An Advent Poem)

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 the Divine
rising up within me

awakening my soul
with fluttering wings
and with each breath

I become an oasis
of peace
hope
love
and
joy.

 


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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.

Interesting.

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.

Sigh.

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.

Namaste.


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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?