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Always We Begin Again

Another Advent season has come to an end.


Once again, we waited in anticipation for the coming of the Light.


Once again, we read holy scripture and devotionals. We prayed. We broke bread together, and put up decorations. We sang Christmas songs, from “Silent Night” to “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.”


We once again appreciated with awe the unique beauty of the season. Lights on trees and houses, shining in the wide eyes of children. A tiny sliver of a moon hanging in the night sky. The pattern of frost on our windows. 


And on Christmas day, we celebrated—once again—the birthing of Grace and perfect Love into a world that desperately needs it.


Once again, we retold the familiar stories of the birth, with all the details of our tradition. The stable, with its sweet smell of hay and animals, where the infant lies. The angel, declaring the Good News to shepherds as the sound of the “Gloria” rings through the air. The Magi who follow a star to the very source of its light.


And like Mary, we once again treasure up each moment of the story, and ponder them in our hearts.


Celebrating Christmas is our way of recognizing that the coming of the Christ changed—and indeed continues to change—everything. For a season, or perhaps even just for a day, we want to fall to our knees in gratitude. 


But what comes next?


When the ornaments and lights are boxed up again until next year… when the manger scene is tucked away…when we no longer hear the joyful music of Christmas…what comes next?


Because yes, God certainly did begin a new thing. Recognizing, celebrating, and giving thanks for the greatest gift of Love is the heart of every Christmas.


But the story doesn’t stop there.


I find myself coming back again and again to these words of St. Benedict: Always we begin again.


Perhaps you’re something like me. I feel God’s love so deeply at Christmas, that even the struggles of life—whether personal or universal—seem easier to bear. The glow reaches into the deepest parts of my soul. But Benedict’s words remind me that once the glow begins to fade, it is up to me to return to God again and again. To refuse to fall into complacency about the one, most important relationship in my life. To get back up when I stumble, to continue the journey to an ever deeper connection to God.


Always we begin again. This Christmas is past. But the Christmas within us begins again, every day.


Like Jesus, each of us had a beginning. And like Jesus, each of us will one day have an end. May we reach that day with the ancient song still ringing in our hearts…“Glory to God in the highest.”


God’s blessings to you and to those you love,

Lou Ann 


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