May you have a great hair year.
Posts in category Beautiful Holidays
I know you’re making a list and checking it twice, and worrying about candles and trying to work out lighting cues for “Silent Night” and trying to figure out how much of the world’s concerns you should refer to in your homily because it’s Christmas Eve, and shouldn’t things be joyful and beautiful and sparkly?
Yes, they should.
Please know that folks who are coming to worship tonight are coming with a lot of subtext. Some of them are coming with nothing but a to-do list in their head. Let the gospels and the readings do the heavy lifting, like this reading by Howard Thurman:
When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and the princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flocks,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among people,
To make music in the heart.
Please make time for silences. Give a deep prayer. Don’t worry about fidgety babies: you should have a plan worked out for parents of fussy little ones and make that alternative clear during the opening words or welcome. (eg, “If your little ones are having a hard time in the service, please know that the Parish Hall is open to you and has lots of running around space. This is an exciting night! You will be able to hear/watch the service from there over the live video stream. “).
As you review your Order of Worship, please, please review the lyrics of the carols and be ready to confidently song-lead. I decided to cut and paste all of the verses into my own personal manuscript so I don’t have to put my folio or Kindle down and pick up a program (we have carol books, actually) and squint. In doing this, I found a HUGE discrepancy between the lyrics printed in my carol book and my own version of “It Came Upon The Midnight Clear” (I had the messed up version – the carol booklet is correct). What a terrible moment of being thrown off my game that would have been, had I been standing there going “Uh BLuh BLUH BLUH” while the congregation trilled along.
Little things can throw us!
Do spend extra, slow, calming time on your personal toilette today. Pack your hand sanitizer and try very hard to thank everyone an extra lot for making Christmas Eve with the church and for the people: ushers, video tapers, readers, choir members, musicians, cookie bakers, greeters, chair setter-uppers.
Be beautiful. Christ is born because God loves us that much.
Blessings on your beautiful ministries, PB
My dearest dearies,
I have been absorbed with the world beyond pencil skirts and lipstick lately — although I did go to Sephora last night (sound of heavenly choir) and get some lip gloss and other goodies because no matter what is going on, I want to feel ready to show up for it.
Lately, though. Oh my word, my Lord. I said recently that 2014 was an annus horribilis (not personally but the world’s brokenness and evil) and a friend who is eternally optimistic and grounded in liberal theology replied that 2014 was a good year because so many social justice movements were working in force for change. Maybe it’s an ethnic thing, but I can’t adjust to a happy demeanor. I’m a melancholic Russian Jew in my soul; influenced by decades of marinating in New England Puritanism and 19th century Transcendentalism and liberation theology and Jungian archetypal psychology, and I’m just seeing reptilian brain fear driving individuals and institutions.
Lord, stop the fear and cure the stupidity.
One thing I am doing right now that is lovely is to read Marilynne Robinson’s newest novel, Lila. It is all about loneliness and shame and seeking to heal through relationships, and not healing but being a little bit comforted. I am loving it so much because no one is miraculously saved through romance, and no one magically understands each other or “becomes one” by virtue of holy matrimony or desperately longing to connect. They just walk down the road holding hands and that’s good enough to help them bear their pain.
Here’s a wonderful NY Times interview with Marilynne Robinson that I think you might really like. I know I did.
So how about that? No beauty tips today (give or get yourself a facial before Christmas Eve, though, okay?), just some reading material and a big, juicy BTFM hug and prayers over your beloved heads for this Sunday morning. Go be beautiful. MWAH.
How nice that this lady agreed to let me photograph her for our little blog!
Here’s the story that goes with the picture:
I stopped into Marshall’s the other day to get a gift certificate for someone and of course I had to take a spin around to see what was up, as one does. A tall, attractive woman was combing the racks next to me and we both spotted a crazy-fun furry vest. I pulled it off the rack and said, “This is cute!” and she said in a friendly and encouraging way, “I was looking at that before.” I instantly had a vision of her totally rocking the garment and I said, “Oh, I am way too short to carry this off but you could absolutely do it!”
She blushed that wonderful blush that people do when you identify their beauty or strength in a way that they had maybe been too insecure to do for themselves. The woman told me that, in fact, she was looking for something to wear to a party, and she was looking for a royal blue top (so as to avoid the clichéd red or green we both agreed one should avoid for the holidays). The fur vest had caught her eye and seemed like something fun that she would enjoy, but she had worried that she was too old to wear it and so put it back on the rack. I said there was nothing youthful about the thing — it was dramatic, and fun, and textured and she had the height and bearing to make it smashing. “TRY IT ON!” I insisted, and blushing again, she did. And she looked great in it, as you can see even though her eyes are closed and the lighting is horrid because we’re in Marshalls. One has to use one’s imagination.
“You know,” she told me, “My sister is 65 and she always wears fabulous things like this, and I always wonder why I don’t take more chances the way she does.” And I said, “Exactly! Get a great shirt and pair of pants and some big earrings and do your make-up and command that party in your faux fur vest!”
Texture is always fabulous, pigeons, as long as it doesn’t overpower you and make you look like you’re being devoured by a Muppet or attending the event as the Abominable Snowman. A textured vest is good, or a quilted bag, or for gents, a nubby infinity scarf or tweed jacket over a slim cashmere sweater.
But the point is, don’t poo-poo the slightly wild thing you don’t think you could pull off until you TRY IT ON. TRY IT! The worst thing that could happen is that you look hilarious, in which case you laugh and put the thing back for someone else. The best that could happen is that you step out of boring habit and put some strut in your step. Even People Of the Cloth can have a little strut, kids. There’s no law that says we can’t.
You know how some years you just don’t get around to doing any decorating of your own home because you’re too wrapped up (pun intended) with holiday season busyness at church and in your community?
I did that last year, and it was fine. For me, it’s fine to do that sometimes if I think about my own needs and priorities (and I don’t have children, so I can do that).
But this year, I need Advent. I need it very much. I pray for God to dwell among us in a way that we can feel and access in our responses to living in a broken world. I need the journey to Bethlehem. Dear God, I need angels smashing through the wall saying, “HEY. DON’T FREAK OUT BUT GOD IS GOING TO DO THIS HUGE THING, ARE YOU UP FOR IT?” I need a nobody little girl from an oppressed community to say, “Yes, as a matter of fact I am, and let me spontaneously bring forth an astonishing statement about what God is doing here, let me sing it, let me lay it down.”
I need lights and angels and creche sets around the house and I need to pad down to my kitchen every morning like a little kid and open the Advent calendar for the day and squeal at what’s behind the flap of paper.
Some years, like a succulent, I can draw moisture for a dry season out of the ground upon which I stand with my people. This year, though, I need to fling a lot of tinsel around, light the smelly candles, wrap the bannisters in garland. I need to get a party going for the Christ child. Can’t skip it this year.
So in the spirit of “Physician, heal thyself,” I am saying, “Minister, deck thy halls first.”
If you need to.
But now would be a good time to stop and ask yourself if you need to and not look up on December 26th and feel a sad pang that you did all that to make Christmas deep and beautiful for your community but left your own home barren of effort.