Preparing a Welcome


, ,

welcomingfireplace I love to inhabit the place where people come to visit. Each week people come into my living room to sit and reflect on the places here the Holy has been apparent in their lives and what challenges have presented themselves. Each Thursday my granddaughter comes over after school to do homework, to create a new project, to snack on Doritos and catch up on conversation. And every so often, people come from far away to spend a night or two with our home as a base of operations. I am always in need of preparing the space for each visitor.

I have the memory of a bustling mother who hosted many in the homes she inhabited over the years. She with my father were, in their stateside missionary years, hosts for missionaries in transit from their fields of work abroad to their homes for furlough. The dinner table was long and set with many inexpensive dishes that fed a crowd. My father ferried people from train, plane and boat to the home and back again. Besides food and transportation, they were busy with helping find medical resources, shopping and assisting in making connections to the next points on the itinerary. All this was done in between the rhythm of daily prayers and ongoing helpful conversation.

Another icon of hospitality for me was my first spiritual director. Her home in my imagination was a Hobbit House–cozy, warm, and full of icons of Spirit, some classic, some personal signs of her own. More important than the place was her presence. She was always smiling and welcoming, and as we talked, for over 20 years, she brought to me an attentiveness, supported by an accumulated memory of who I was and where I had been. I was not just a generic guest, but I was a particular visitor, in that sacred moment and place, whose journey was worthy of all the time and listening the hour afforded.

As I turn into Holy Week this weekend, I am drawn to the occasions when Jesus was offered hospitality–the supper where his feet are anointed by a woman who did what she could; a Passover meal in an upper room, where he welcomed his beloved one by washing their feet; a sharing of a loaf of bread and a cup of wine, his icons of himself, given to those around the table. On each occasion, someone prepared the material of the meal and the place for eating it in readiness for the welcome. And in each, someone, Jesus, became the host in attending the the deep need of Spirit, for a sacred space and sacred moment in which to experience the Spirit.

In this Holy Week ahead of me, I would like to exercise hospitality of Spirit–by welcoming those who are brought to me, prepared for what they might need–a cold cup of water, a listening ear, a shelter from the storm. And I would like to offer my presence to each one–listening for words or no words, receiving their stories with Grace. I also ask for an awareness of how the Spirit is the container for each visit, and be able to have eyes to see and ears to see how the Spirit is moving and prodding and comforting each one. so that I can join that movement in grounding us in energy, imagination and Love.

The poet Rumi tells us, “This being human is a guest house. Every morning a new arrival…Welcome and entertain them all!…Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.”

I pray for an open door, an open ear and an open heart this Holy Week!







A Mixed Up Lent



I am upside down and all turned around this Lent! On the one hand, there are all the traditional calls to introspection (not not too much), to repentance (but not too harsh!), to giving up and self-denial (but doing no harm!). On the other hand, I hear the calls to act, to affirm, to resist, to look for the places where the Light can get in. It did not help me that on Ash Wednesday, the liturgy and focus of which is very clear, it was also Valentine’s Day, for me the anniversary of my first date with my lifetime Beloved, and we were celebrating with sweetness and grace. To add to the confusion was the unbelievable act of terror and violence in Parkland, Florida, not far from where one of my beloveds goes to college. And there was the outpouring of unfiltered opinions and screeds that followed publicly in the aftermath. So where do I plant myself this Lenten season?

I also live in a body with ups and downs, among a people whose bodies have ups and downs. Will I know on a particular day whether I have enough sleep to be able to set out on my Lenten intentions? Will the diagnostic test take me in a different direction than I planned? Will the pernicious and virulent viruses and bacteria swirling around this year pass by me by or land in my throat? On a mundane and frivolous level, what should  I plan to wear day to day–sackcloth and ashes or my dancing shoes?

I have hunkered down to what is basic. Each day I am asking myself: what does my soul need? To stay alive, to go deep, to become closer to the intention of the Holy for me today! And I ask myself: where am I encountering Joy? In breath itself, in creation, in the “littles,” and in the hearts, voices and bodies of those who live their truths unwaveringly. Sacred text grounds me in the constancy of the Holy One; poetry challenges me to find new language for what I believe and continue to believe; mystery stories amuse, divert and give me rest. My soul is refueled with energy and imagination, as I count not only blessings, but wonder and truth and grace.

Then, I am trying to see what the the day holds: a phone call, a change of plans, a lunch re-connection, some quiet reading, a trip to the doctor, a meeting. In each of those I am bringing a consciousness of Holy Spirit accompanying me, nudging me, illuminating me, holding me back. Some days it is a time to share Love–with snacks and coloring, with recommending a book, with listening. Some days it is a day to weep and mourn–with those who weep, with our children, for the grief of the world.

The Singer of Psalms knew the dilemmas: “My times are in your hand; deliver me from the hand of my enemies and persecutors./Let your face shone upon your servant; save me in your steadfast love.” (31:15-16). So each day I awake–rummaging around for soul food, catching the joy as it flies. Either way, whatever I am called to wear, to do, to sing, my heart and schedule are in Loving Hands. For this Lent, ending on another mixed metaphor–Easter and April Fool’s Day–that is enough!

Change and Decay


, ,


-I go to my appointment, and the pipe shop that has been on the opposite corner for as long as I can remember is boarded up and fenced in.

-The sandwich place next to the coffee shop has gone out of business, and the department store I counted on has moved to another mall.

Much worse then all of these are the images of destruction by mudslides of parts of  the sacred retreat center where I have gone so many years on pilgrimage. I grieve for what was, what was dear and holy.

And since the festival season, there have been so many losses: death of a colleague, a neighbor, the spouse of a college friend, a former parishoner.

And the world, the nation! How hard to fathom what they seem to have come to!

Changes, changes changes! it’s been said that we as humans experience all change as loss. And I am feeling it this January! With each medical appointment, I feel the loss of what I used to be. With each encounter in the faith community, I am aware that we are in  liminal place with unclear agendas and sensibilities. With each report on the news, I see time-held axioms of thought and behavior disappear, some for the worse, and irreparable loss of public lands, public generosity and public civility.

So I am pressed to know how to navigate each day when there are so many variables before me. I find that I need to fall back on some organic principles of Spirit with more attention and intention in these days:

–Give my grief all of its due, but only its due. Etty Hillesum challenges us to remember that it is a “spiritual bypass” to go straight to counting blessings when we have not grieved the loss. I mourn the loss of people and places that gave me life and love. I remember wistfully the ways and means of comfort and compassion I have experienced. I lament the destruction that lays waste our planet and that thoughtlessly removes the beautiful and the good. I cling to the Word that my tears are precious to the Holy One.

–Give thanks for what is blossoming and healing. My border of white irises has not ceased to be in bloom, one plant after another, since early November. There is a new one every morning. And God’s mercies are new every morning, if I am paying attention. Random  and intentional acts of kindness still abound. Fred Rogers has reminded us that in times of catastrophe, we are to look for the helpers to see the presence of the Holy One. They are everywhere–the ones who welcome the displaced, the ones who give rides, the ones who provide food, the ones who go more than one extra mile, but tens and hundreds of extra steps to care for others, those who give generously over and over for the healing and preservation of the world and its fragile ones.

–Give room for the Light to shine in. If I focus only on the reports of doom and gloom, of murder and mayhem, my own heart gets clouded, or “rubbled over”, as Jurgen Moltmann says. So I need to keep practice looking for the “cracks when the Light gets in” and make them a little wider. I celebrate the one who sat by the bedside of the dying one, so she could go in peace. I delight in the one who has learned to turn away anger with a soft answer. I rejoice in those who at great cost give themselves to generosity and thoughtfulness. And I cheer for those who are willing to speak truth to power, to affirm the good and call out the evil when it appears.

Things will change, they always have. In this world many institutions, places I hold sacred, precious relationships will fade and decay. However, as long as I have life and breath, I need to remain one who hopes, who engenders hope in others, and celebrates the reality that with the Holy One there are no final defeats.

Change and decay in all around I see/ O Thou who changest not, abide with me.




Voices of Joy Advent IV and Christmas and New Year


, , ,


A voice of joy! Advent began with a voice on one crying…in a wilderness! And we take a turn into the season with a voice of joy! I am relying heavily on joyful voices in this season, Music and words combine to life my spirit above the oppressive sounds of so much that is being given attention.

So I have heard Joy in the voice of children in productions of “Beauty and the Beast.” I have heard Joy in concerts downtown at Disney Hall, first all of the Bach motets, then the voices of Chanticleer. My Facebook community supplies me amply with music of Joy of many kinds–country western, early Renaissance, piano and cello, hundred voice choirs, a capella ensembles. On Christmas Eve by candlelight, we heard in variegated voices the story of the birth of Jesus into this world and what it means; it led us to stand and sing together “Joy to the World.”

And then we were stunned at dawn to get a familiar voice on our phone on Christmas morning telling us to go look on our front porch–and there to our shock and surprise was our complete Florida family awaiting to say Merry Christmas and to feed and love us, through this festival week. It has been followed with singular voices of Joy: laughter of cousins, hilarious remembering between siblings, excited regaling with new experiences, eager recitation of encounters with something special–all Joy! Certainly the we have shared the Joy of Christmas with enthusiastic voices this season.

I am convinced that I am to bring a voice of Joy into the new year. It is counter-intuitive if I become saturated with the voices of the world around us–news, op-ed pieces, and Cassandra like predictions of the doom to come. However, the voice of those who are seeking Spirit and intending to live with its energy are filled with hope,  perseverance, compassion and imagination because of what we are celebrating this Christmastide. Those are the choruses of which I would like to be a part. I anticipate with expectation the anthems of those who are joining their journey of Spirit with their intention to be part of the healing of the world, whether in political demonstration and action, or in service to those without resources or agency. I align my heart and voice with those who croon softly to the person in pain and despair, or to the ones who feels as if there is no place to call home. I accept the lowering registers of my own voice to calibrate it to the song I have been given to sing for now: God is here, does not leave us, nor can anything separate us from Divine Presence and Care. There is Joy in all!

Good Christian souls, rejoice! with heart and soul and voice…

In this New Year I am adding my voice to the band of angels and saints who hear and care for the voices crying in the wilderness, and then go on to bring a more hopeful, Joyful song of “Peace on earth, good will to all!”

Arms of Love Advent III



armsoffriendsThis third week of Advent, after Gaudete Sunday, where we praise the Holy, as Mary did, remembering her with  a rose colored candle in our Advent wreaths, is about Loving.  All of one’s body is involved in loving, but often the first movement is with our arms.

I found this work of art in Montreal this fall. So much Love is shown in the arms of these three: the expressive arms of the one telling her truth; the accepting arms of the one bent in to listen deeply; and the arms that hold and support the truth as it is being told. How many people, especially in this season, long for welcoming and supportive arms of Love outstretched on their behalf!

I have been noticing active arms of Love this week:

  • the driver who ferries the car pool daily, often adding to his load, children other than his own
  • the grandparent who opens her heart and arms to greet the little one after he trips and falls
  • the strong arms who give support and balance to the one whose gait is not quite as steady as it once was
  • the long arms that reach that elusive ingredient on the top shelf of the grocery store for the shopper who can’t reach it
  • those who put all their arms together to pack up turkey dinners for households who need them this Christmas
  • the quick defensive arms who keep others from tripping, or ward off danger from something unexpected
  • the willing arms that carry things from story to car, from car to home, from home to friends

So many ways to show Love! And each one is characteristic of the Holy One who is Love. The prophet Hosea characterizes God speaking this way:

…it was I who taught Ephraim to walk. I took them up in my arms; but they did not know that I healed them. I led them with  cords of human kindness, with bands of Love. (Hosea 11: 3-4)

I am seeking to make my arms loving ones this Advent, whether it is rocking a little one, following the Mother Mary, or offering a great-grandmother’s cookie recipe to guests invited, or sitting with relaxed posture to hear the story that needs telling, whether I am hearing it for the first time or have heard it many times before. As for my own needs to be replenished in Love this season,  I am taking shelter in the Loving Arms of the One who made me just the way I am, who can comfort and heal me, then send me out again to Love the world!

People, look east, the time is near/of the crowning of the year./ Make your house fair as you are able,/ trim the hearth and set the table./People, look east and sing today:/ Love the Guest is on the Way.




Peaceful Feet Advent 2


, , ,

PeacefulFeetHow beautiful upon the mountain are the feet of the one who brings peace, says the prophet, and I would add “along the seashore, in the care facility, tn the church sanctuary, along the streets in the neighborhood, and in the shopping malls.” Too many feet are the bearers of bad tidings. The feet of the peaceful ones are, indeed, welcome, winsome and healing.

I am in awe of those this week whose feet are engaged in marches for reasons of peace–advocacy for DACA students, attention for the fragile in our world, and the strong, weary, persistent feet of the fighters of wind and flame here in Southern California, trying to save lives and home against the seemingly unremitting Santa Ana winds. When I hear footsteps approaching, I long for them to be the the steps of peace bringers, peacemakers, peacekeepers, peace seekers.

I kept company with my community of spirit journeyers yesterday in an Advent retreat, and for a few hours, we reflected on Christ, “the image of the invisible God,” as he walked this earth. Through copies of paintings of artists, we saw Jesus walking with his disciples on the Emmaus Road bringing them peace after their trauma at the crucifixion. We watched Jesus gliding over water to his frightened friends, and then in another painting saw him stop mid-stride when his being sensed the courageous one whose bleeding had kept her on the margins of life for so many years, and sensed her peace as healing flowed into her. This Prince of Peace is the One for whom we are waiting this season. Lady Julian reminds us that “He is our peace, when we ourselves are in un-peace.” We gathered to reflect and share on the stories of the One with peaceful feet that touched and challenged us.

However, I was once again struck with the feet of the very ones sitting in our circle, whose work in the world is so often to bring peace. One of us, while she was with us, was working on finding housing for those in the homeless shelter displaced by the SoCal fires. Another had been that week helping to raise money for the drilling of wells in villages in Niger. Someone else had been caring for family members who are ill, or had gone to the side of one in grief and despair. And each one there had taken herself to the place of being peace for someone else–at home, on-line, over land and sea–in speaking words of peace or in just showing up wordlessly  with peaceful presence.

I have seen several mashup posts from movies this week of dancing, all synchronized to a contemporary refrain and beat, and there is joy in seeing Fred Astaire, Julie Andrews, john Travolta and Minnie Mouse, one after the other,  swirl and tap out joy with their feet; that energy comes first from a peaceful being. Jesus, looking over Jerusalem, sighed,saying, “Would that you knew the things that made for peace!” We all echo that same sigh. And in this season of Advent while we wait, I am choosing to be the one with beautiful, peaceful feet, whether it is by sitting with my daughter overlooking the ocean as we contemplate the unknown future, or by dancing with my little loved ones for the sheer fun of it, or by taking a staff person in the church to lunch, or by collecting money day by day for the fragile ones further damaged by the fires around us. And the peace of God which passes all understanding will keep my heart and mind…


Wings of Sorrow: Advent I




I have begun Advent in Hope, but am deeply aware of all the sorrow swirling around me. I have been  for weeks now. It has shown up in all shapes and sizes among the people I know and love: the loss of a spouse for one longtime friend, the failing of another body part in someone else, the ending of traditions of many years because of circumstance, and more tragically, the continuous pouring out of the failure of human beings, personally and politically.  So I grieve, for that which has been lost, for that which has been broken, and for the allure of despair that can accompany grief in some of its stages.

When I think about the familiar characters in the stories of the Advent and Christmas season, I see that many of them were acquainted with sorrow in their participation on the events of the season we now celebrate. Mary was unexpectedly, inexplicably pregnant, with a fiance willing, possibly eager, to divorce her. Joseph felt betrayed, with no clear idea what to do next. The Wise Ones from afar seemed to be charged with the need to find a solution, a truth, to the searching of their minds and souls. And the Church marks with deep sorrow the slaughter of the innocent ones after Herod’s insane rampage in killing all the infant boys born, who threatened his imagination.

I can and do connect with those sorrows. There is sorrow in the child that appears, no matter what age or stage, that seems to require something more from us than we are able to provide, or with whom we are ill-matched. There is sorrow in marriages and partnership when illness or grief strikes a loved one. There is sorrow in so many who have been faithful to the ideals and the principles to which their lives have been committed, only to find that now all the rules, sensibilities and specs have changed. And our lamentation is deep and wide when we witness the brutality and callousness and dis-empowering of so many vulnerable human beings, in our own neighborhoods and in our nation and the nations all around the globe. In this “bleak midwinter” of our world’s history, we grieve profoundly, even as we look for some Light that will show us how to participate in its healing.

I began Advent with a trip to the local art museum where there is a stunning exhibit of the work that Marc Chagall created for ballet and opera. Colorful, provocative, enchanting, each figure and background set forth imagination and energy, but also each one carried a shadow, the sorrow to be found in the work for which it was created. Even in “The Magic Flute” by Mozart which delights with humor, with wit and intrigue, in the midst there is sorrow, an intimation of which I found in the backdrop (pictured above) that opened the opera, “wings of sorrow,” lurking even in the starry sky. I am comforted with the depiction.

I also began Advent reading Father Gregory Boyle’s new book Barking to the Choir in which he regales his readers with story after story of the tears of tragedy that is the daily fare of the “homies” with whom he works. The stories are unimaginable to some of us who live comfortable lives. A friend of mine said, “I laughed, I cried, I laughed, I cried, over and over.” Yet it is a book about Hope, even in and through the sorrow.

I am challenged to give place in my life to the sorrow that is part of who we are, where we are in this time in history. Sorrow is a constant thread of life, not strange, not the result of something bad, just life on this earth. But it is not the only thread, nor the last word. I acknowledge the sorrow, grieve it whatever way is right for me, and leave room for Hope to come in. Not a bad way to begin Advent!

Spiritual Clutter


, ,

images-2The liturgical year comes to an end this week, and I am struggling with what  am experiencing as spiritual clutter in my heart and mind: too many books, too many websites, too many blogs from others, too many fraught conversations. All of these sources are good, some even brilliant, but the sheer number of them is crowding out my ability to listen for the Word of the Holy One to me day by day.

I am attracted to every shiny word and image about people’s journey of Spirit that I see. What does this young woman have to say? what insights do these theologians have to bring? how are these spiritual teachers expanding the parameters of deep conversation? and who are the latest voices to come to sit in at the table of conversation? Most of these sources are worthy, provocative and helpful. Theirs are insights and perspectives that challenge and enrich my own study and experience so far. But what I am finding is that for me right now, the engagement of “more” is crowding out the “one thing necessary” that Jesus flagged for Martha and Mary, that time of listening deeply, musing, pondering, letting the Word dwell in me richly, truly, madly deeply. I read quickly, so I can absorb lots of words in a record amount of time, but I am noticing that my rapid speed and prodigious quantities of written material are making it hard for me to hear a Word. I remember the seekers who went to the Desert Ammas and Abbas to ask, “Amma, give me a word!” Rarely were the responses given in more than one or two sentences. When that Word was given, the seeker was to go into her own life again to ponder, to meditate, to contemplate what that might mean for her in the location she was given to live.

As I take the turn into Advent next week, I want to  attend to the one thing necessary. It will mean ignoring and tuning out some very glittering images and plangent siren calls of What’s New, What’s Exciting and What’s Different. It will mean turning down the volume on the shrieking headlines and news updates of the hour. It will mean choosing an Advent practice wisely, and then sticking with that, and only that, while I give myself the time and space to reflect on what comes up for me. It will mean committing myself to the parts of my practice that I skate over quickly–the silence, the journal writing, the focused prayer. And keep my eyes and ears focused on the one thing I intend to do.

I have already begun removing things from my basket in my prayer place. That book I nearly finished but didn’t can go to another stack of awaited reading. That diary that is more about quotidian activities than the heart of the matter can come to my reading chair for later. That journal that is really completed can be replaced by a new one that is eagerly waiting with me for a Word. And my timer can keep me rooted and breathing in my prayer place as I listen for the Word.

My late spiritual director, Betsy, often quoted C.G. Jung, saying ,”The Good is the Enemy of the Best.” The good clutter all around, so readily accessible to me, is in this moment the enemy of my best hope for getting a clear channel of connection to the Holy One who is waiting to teach and direct me in these days fraught with bafflement. outrage and grief. My invitation is to un-clutter, sit still and keep my heart, eyes and ears open.

I look forward to what will come in this Advent of attention.

Traveling with Saints




I am getting ready to honor All Saints Day this coming week, and I usually begin with a litany of saints who have gone before me into the unseen vistas of eternity–family members, teachers. pastors, friends and soul mates, heroines and heroes. But this year I am aware of all the saints with whom I come in contact daily, weekly and episodically. My definition this year of a saint is someone who brings Light (to borrow from Leonard Cohen) though the cracks in everything, cracks of grief, abuse, venality, hopelessness. And there are many!

A few keep popping up:

  • the soloist who gave embodiment to the human grief as she sang “Lacrymosa” from a contemporary Requiem
  • the newly widowed faithful partners as they navigate their way into a new normal with gravity and grace
  • the caregivers who show up to comfort, clean up and be present to those whom they are called to love
  • the neighborhood conscience who keeps us from tripping on sidewalks and losing our mail
  • those who arrive on the doorstep with flowers or coffee bread or just a “hi” when days are bleak
  • the one who always at the drop of a hat says, “Come on in!”
  • the place holder in the pew where she as always sat for years, through pastoral changes, political wrangling and waning societal interest in “religion”
  • the poet who sees, then articulates, the beauty of the created world and calls us to celebrate
  • the persistent one who tenaciously refuses to collapse into despair, even with diminishing strength and agility
  • each one who stands up to bullying, whether it occurs around a dinner table, a private office, or a public arena
  • the writers for hope and justice–in blog, book and op-ed pieces, who keep calling me to Live Into Hope
  • the preacher who faithfully speaks the truth in love–transparently, courageously, in spite of slings and arrows of cranks and critics
  • the children who remain delighted with Halloween, bugs and dogs and soccer games, no matter the weather–political or meteorological
  • and, after Mr. Rogers, the helpers, the ones who see what needs doing and do it, after calamity, after tragedy, in ordinary time.

I am so grateful to be aware of the saints who course around me like a stream of mercy never ceasing, even as I am grateful for the saints who have gone on ahead–who saw in me things I could not see, then allowed me to become all I was meant to be. I am grateful for the saints who always allowed the Light in, no matter the cracks in everything that I could see, without “spiritual bypass,” without rigidity and judgmentalism, without giving up. I intend to be one too!


An Agenda for This Year of Life




I just celebrated a Big Birthday! Somewhere in my lists of oughts and shoulds, I had been imagining that I would have a new Mission Statement with clear aims and goals for this occasion and part of my life. Instead, I was traveling for fun, coming out of an intense period of focused care-giving and attending to both daily and cosmic need. My heart and mind were muddled rather than at peace. I was delighted to be away from the daily bombardment of news of disarray and sadness, and so it was a journey toward tranquility that took us on a drive up the St. Lawrence River out of  Quebec City, devouring and savoring the beauty of the fall colors just beginning to turn.

Our first stop was the cathedral of St. Anne de Beaupre. The entire edifice is dedicated to Anne, in legend the mother of Mary, mother of Jesus, and was beautiful in every way–color, light, design. It was for us truly a sacred space. However, the great gift to me amidst the physical beauty was the inscription over the large statue of Anne, declaring: That my joy may be in you. The same inscription in French oversaw the pulpit on the opposite side. I was stopped in wonder, love and praise. I wondered when and how often I has been in a worship space, a worship community, that invited me to be in Joy. I have seen many other churches and cathedrals that have invited me to stillness, to awe, to reverence, but I could not remember such an explicit invitation to Joy.

As the journey continued, both inside and out, I became aware that the Joy comes, not in big pronouncements or agendas, even Vision Statement, but it comes in the attention to the graces and invitations that were offered to me each day. Some were sheer beauty–fields of canola and leaves turning read and yellow and purple. Some came in laughter over new discoveries and shared amazement. Some came in questions raised by what we saw in museums, on sidewalks, and river fronts. And some came in knowing my body well enough to be able to say, “I have taken in all I can accommodate today.”

It brought to mind a quotation from Marvin Hiles that I have carried around for many years: To live sweetly in the bitter days, to shape beauty among the grotesque, to exult in the littles, and to declare in the midst of brokenness a wholeness that comes now and ultimately. God’s joy in me in the daily, in the moment and in the long haul.

As I journeyed home from my trip to Canada, I found that graces and invitations were all around–a Taize service that centered me, a planning meeting that energized (!), the joining of two friends of mine who had not known each other previously in a justice project, opportunities to walk with love ones in distress. Not always joy, not always happiness, but Joy.

This week, as if to add an exclamation to my findings, these words came from Celtic Daily Prayer II, by Andy Raine: These are the days for noticing the small things, establishing trust and saying things that need no words. In the miasma and stench of rhetoric in the public sphere these days, I am cheered by the prospect of an alternative narrative, one that allows for and leads to Joy, and even invites me to be a bringer of the Joy of the Holy that is in me!