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A large rock-encased mound over 4,000 years old in the northeast of the Republic of Ireland, featuring a narrow corridor that runs to its center. At the time of the winter solstice, a beam of light from the sun moves up the corridor like a sword and illumines inscribed rocks at the center.

Off the coast of Ireland, the last inhabited island before Iceland, the 140 natives hunker down to make it through the winter. This is the Irish season, most tourists don't see. The wind howls out of the north having a clear path down from Greenland. The Atlantic lashes against the shore and there on the island what is there to do but gather round the turf fire, tell the stories, and play the music that warms the soul? Winter in Ireland always meant being close around the fire, being present to one another. And outside, in the cold and wind, Tory's lighthouse blinks its message. "We are present here!"

Joyce Rupp in her wonderful book, Out of the Ordinary, writes:
"The Gospel stories indicate that Jesus gave few material things to people. What he gave was his personal presence,gifts that were treasures of the heart."

January Daily Prayer Starter

It is a New Year and a New start. Epiphany is the great January Feast. Isaiah proclaims, "Rise up in splendor, O Jerusalem! Your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you."

Morning Prayer

O God, let me be today a light-house! I ask that my light will this day shine upon ______________________________.

O God, may I especially be present to ________________ who needs my presence.

O God in this new month and in this new year, let the light of Jesus guide my path. I thank you today for my "treasures of the heart which are ________________ ".

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A Prayer for Advent

In the Word was life,
and that life was humanity's light —
a Light that shines in the darkness,
a Light that the darkness has never overtaken.
—John 1:4-5

O God, in ancient Decembers,
In the narrow corridor at Newgrange,
Ancestors huddled very low,
Yearning for the solstice sun.
We, too, wait — but for the Son.
We wait expectantly in the pregnant, holy dark.
We wait in joyful hope for the advent of our Savior.

Let the Christ light penetrate into the inner corridors of our hearts.
Where there is darkness, let there be light.
Where there is coldness, let there be warmth.
Where there is doubt, let there be hope.
Where there is guilt, let there be forgiveness.
Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus!

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The Month We Remember Departed Loved Ones and Friends.

Did you know that all the little spooks who ran from door to door on Halloween, (All Hallows Eve) were following in the ghost steps of the ancient Irish Celts? Yes!
For the ancient Celts the feast of Samhain was observed at the end of October and the edge of November. And on this night both the ancestors, called "the peaceful dead" and the fairies are active. The beginning of November is a "thin time" between this world and the next.

In Ireland, great fires were lit on a holy mountain. This observance was centuries old when St. Odillio of Cluny made it a Christian feast in 998. And traveling Irish monks probably spread it throughout Europe. Thus Halloween is the vigil of the feast of all the saints and the day after is the feast of all the souls who are on their way towards heaven's gates.
And November is the month of remembering the beloved dead.

November Meditation

Might be said weekly concentrating on various groups of departed.

I remember and bring to loving memory my dearest relatives (pause and bring their images to mind. Week 1)
my closest friends______________ (Week 2)
my wonderful neighbors ________ (Week 3)
my mentors and helpers ________ (Week 4)

I recall their tender touch, their kindnesses,
not blown away by cold November winds.
Rather, their memories are stored up
in the treasury of my heart.

Indeed, my own loving this day
is fueled by the peat fire glow
of these precious memories.
And through me, their love still burns!

Their visages rustle and gleam
like golden aspen leaves
in the sunshine of happy memory.
They have fallen off the tree of life
only to be wafted heavenward
by the Holy Wind of the Spirit.

Our remembering is a journey through time.
For their yesterdays are done.
Now, they live on in all tomorrows,
not bound by time nor space.

And we keep them in our remembering.
For them the bell has tolled,
and all toil is done.
May they rest in peace.
For them darkness has no hold.
Let perpetual light shine upon them.

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From "Seasons of the Earth and Heart"

Autumn has finally come even to the desert where I live. Nights are pleasant now and temperatures begin to curve below 100. There are just enough deciduous trees to provide some leaves blowing in the wind. It is the season for enjoying the mellow twilights and for reflecting on what needs to be let go, and what needs to be put away for the winter. Not just summer clothes, but other things as well. These are Autumn Reflection questions:
• What memories need to be cherished?
• What obsessions or worries need to drop away like the falling leaves?

Christ above me
Christ below me
Christ beyond me
Christ within me

Arrow to the east - Light!
Arrow to the west - Insight!
Arrow to the north - Wisdom!
Arrow to the south - Humility!

Alpha pushing
Omega pulling
Spirit breathing
Arrow piercing
Lord dancing
Jesus healing.

First Step, Twelfth Step

Come Lord Jesus - Maranatha!

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Labor Day.....School Openings.....A Hint of Fall

God bless our work each day this September,
From morning's waking,
Till night's unfolding.
Bless our comings and goings,
The spinning of our labor and our lives
May the ones we meet,
Even those with whom we compete,
Be the better for it.
God bless this journey.
God bless the work.
God bless September.

September is like the beginning of a new year--so many "start ups."

My resolution for my work this month is_____________________
and I pray for_________________________

The young ones starting back to school this month are_____________________

My prayer for them is________________________________________

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Lughnassadh - Beginning of Irish Harvest

Ask the ancient Celts.
They shall tell you.
The trees do sing!
The rocks do speak!
The soil gives birth!
God's breath fills the earth!
We live on earth's circle.
Christ's halo--moon, sun, stars.
To heal the earth is to recircle.
To heal is to forgive and to mend.
This day, let me heal my circle,
Blessing and reverencing all around.

Journal: To heal my circle,
I need to come around to............

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"One Hundred Cranes: Praying with the Chorus of Creation":

These desert days I am earthbound,
my vision obscured by glare,
my own path rutted and fissured,
my prayer like ashes in my mouth.

These are the worst of unrelenting days
and restless, dreamless nights.
My scorched path slows my plodding.
I fail to look up and beyond.

Earthbound, I sense only where I have been,
and where I am now,
not how much more there is to see,
nor where I might hope to be.

Divine Spirit, far beyond the vault of the heavens
yet as close as my heart's nest,
may I soar unto the eagle skyway
to look wider, view farther.

I pray for an ascending spirit,
a share in winged courage,
an eagle's eye discerning
a better way to go.

Image: The eagle soaring. See its view from the heights. Pray for perspective, discernment, for an unfolding vision.

Journal: On eagle's wings I shall ...

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