Tuesday, December 29, 2015
This past week, I attended Christmas Eve service in one of the grandest cathedrals in the country, Chicago’s Fourth Presbyterian, on Michigan Avenue, downtown. I sat in the rear balcony and stared across the expanse as thirteen-hundred worshipers celebrated the birth of a child and must admit to being brought to tears at the opening strains of Silent Night in that magnificent space, lit only and entirely by small candles held by each member of the congregation. I am not a religious man, but consider myself a spiritual one, and I was moved by the wonder of the place.
On a similar night, thirteen years before, I sat in a small brick Episcopal church in old Raleigh. No pomp or grandeur, the aging congregation outnumbered by the modest choir. The pain of great loss still weighed heavy on my heart. From the humble pulpit a simple holiday message, the birth of new hope, was offered into the tiny, solemn space and I was deeply soothed by the quiet peace I felt there.
To close each year, I step gently into the waters of a particular gorge as the fog lifts and the sun begins to creep over the edge of the wide ravine behind me, illuminating the far rock wall in golden splendor. My heart, already enlivened by the solitary hike in, leaps from my body and soars into the pine rafters of that Nature’s sanctuary. Eyes closed, my face to the heavens, I soak in the majesty of our Mother’s temple and send skyward heartfelt prayers of thanks for the year past and hopes for the coming to whoever might be listening. The place, in return, fills me with joy.
Here’s hoping that you find your place - of wonder, of peace, of joy - in the coming new year. May it sooth your pains and give you life and happiness unbounded.
Thank you for reading.