advent journal: generous citizens of loss


I came home from our first Christmas Eve service struck by an irony that happens every year. We sing “Silent Night” and light candles, as many congregations do on this night, but then, in order to finish the service, we have to blow them out to sing “Joy to the World” and say, “Merry Christmas.”

Tonight the timing was perfect. Just as we blew out our candles, the lights in the sanctuary came up and the organ began the introduction to the hymn. Where one source of light stopped, another appeared. It was a nice moment, Now I just have to stay awake until the late service.

Over the past several months, I have collected phrases that have moved me as I have read them or heard people say them. I think I have a hundred or so–four or five words pulled out of context because they jumped out at me as little flashes of light, if you will–things that give me hope. Reading back over them this afternoon, they jumped out in new ways and connected themselves to one another, on their own or with some of my words, much like the lights of the sanctuary connected to the candles. The words in italics are the borrowed words.

christmas eve

generous citizens of loss
we have come once again to
this glitch in the predictable
when joy can invade
and we are called
to befriend contingency

in this time of increasing
palliatives in the space
between our sufferings we
are the heartbreak church
an arrival of generosity in some
endlessly creative absence

in the garden of our own griefs
a beautiful temporary
a portal into wonder
a never-ending becoming
a weave of meaning
susceptible to healing

I hope the days ahead are filled with wonder and meaning. I hope you have people around you to love and to remind you that you are loved. Thanks for sharing Advent with me.



  1. A warm and hearty Merry Christmas from the farm in Fort Worth to you, Ginger, and Rach, as well as the pups, from Jan and me.

  2. Thank you, Milton. Once again, your company hits the mark often throughout the season. We have had some family losses that hit us hard as we wonder about “our turn.” A grieving sister or brother’s tears make shorter days darker. Sometimes I am reading your words during the night and I send them on to my brother because I know he is awake although he is several hundred miles away. That is the gift you give. Sincerely, Maggie

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