Expanding Our Vision

I spent this past weekend helping to lead a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat which I believe I’ve done for nearly eight years now. I never leave the experience without some sense of wonder and awe, not only at what people manage to live through in their lives, but undoubtably the courage they have to see it through to the other side. Or if anything, to begin the process of passing through.

If there’s one thing about pain and suffering, it has a way of narrowing our world view and often to the point where the sense of the eternal seems all but lost. Everything that we see and experience is viewed through that one narrow lens that does not lead to reconciliation and conversion, but to greater isolation and separation. It seems like the endless spiral of life for so many, choice after endless choice only leading to greater violence towards life and to ourselves.

It is the story of salvation history, though, as well. All this season we hear these great messages of hope from the Prophet Isaiah, including this Sunday. It is certainly the story of people Israel who often found itself in conflict after conflict, leading to greater separation. In today’s reading, despite the message of hope, Jerusalem once again plans for an impending attack from beyond its walls but also from within as this ongoing separation that leads to greater injustice and suffering. Heck, even if you go today it isn’t much different from thousands of years ago. It’s probably one of the craziest cities I’ve visited. They are so focused on their own pain and the need to protect that it has led to building walls that separate, from our own faith, the place of birth from the marking of death, a separation of Bethlehem and Jerusalem. It’s led to great problems beyond the walls and in places like Bethlehem, leading to a greater degree of poverty and injustice towards the people. Their vision had become so narrowed and they start believing that they really are the eternal rather than seeing it all metaphorically, that it eventually leads to their demise and destruction, time and again.

Yet, the message for Jerusalem and for us this weekend is of hope. That somehow these seeming opposites in the natural world will somehow lead the way and bring example to us humans as to how it’s done. Is there possibility for reconciliation? Is there possibility for less separation and a working towards greater justice, especially for the most vulnerable? Isaiah likes to believe so. For as hard as Isaiah can be on people Israel, this season offers a message of hope to those who have only known darkness and despair, to those who have viewed their lives through their constant suffering and the greater degree of poverty it leads to in one’s heart and soul. Like so many of our own sins, even those who walk this horror movie through the experience of making a life-ending choice, are so often symptoms of something much deeper going on in our lives, both individually and collectively.

Certainly John the Baptist was aware of this and everyone around him was aware of it. It’s why he was such a threat to the leaders, who often perpetuated the darkness for their own benefit, but also to the structures of his time. He was leading a revolution to call out the injustices of the society of his time, but for John it began with himself and for those who followed. He called them to look at themselves and how they too have sinned on this deeper than cellular level of their lives. The Pharisees and Sadducees knew it and did everything to avoid the fear that arose within themselves before the one who threatened their perceived power. John’s message is to repent, to do an about-face in life and to be awakened from their slumber to a new way of life, a life with greater vision, expanded vision, of a true and lasting God that sets them free.

This is the God we celebrate today and the God we prepare for all at the same time. There is no denying the greater darkness that has ensued so many lives, defined lives, ceased lives, and has caused us so often to stop growing ourselves. We get to a place that begins to seem hopeless as our world continues to shrink and dissolve around us, as the storm seemingly collapses over and over again before and within us. But there is hope. With just a crack in the walls we have created, the light begins to shine forth and God once again begins to break through and we submit ourselves to the invitation. This is a season of hope and a season to not only celebrate but to prepare for as the eternal breaks in and is broken open before our very eyes on this Table. As we gather and go forth, we pray we may continue to allow ourselves to be open to something and someone bigger than ourselves, to expand our vision while healing our pain and suffering. It is the fullness of life God desires of each of us and a fullness of life promised in this season of Advent.

The Impossible Becomes Possible

Micah 5: 1-4a; Luke 1: 39-45

After weeks of listening to the end times and then the challenging call of John the Baptist the past two, we now begin the pivot towards Christmas in this beautiful encounter of Mary and Elizabeth. We know relatives of one another, now both pregnant, but also at opposites end of life. Mary, still virgin, young in age, with much to lose, even her life, in saying yes to giving birth to this child. Elizabeth, as we know from scripture, who is called barren, beyond child-bearing age, with nothing to lose at this point. And both are a moment of grace. Of course, most of us somewhere in between, seeking life and yet at times feeling the burden of being barren. Yet, all is a moment of grace.

Yet, there is something else about the two of them and what they model for us in our own lives, in seeking new creation in our hearts as well. See, they both must confront the impossible in their lives. Elizabeth questions. We know Mary questions, “How can this be?” she asks of the angel. Like them, in our own lives in facing what seems to be something impossible, we try to figure it out, reason it, rationalize it, control it in some ways so that it unfolds the way we want it to. But they show us another way, even in spite of their own questioning. They come to a place, as we all need to, where we can accept that this isn’t about me and it’s not about you. Rather, that this life is given to us by God, and when they get to that place, they can finally let it go and it no longer seems impossible but possible with God. Both exemplify this and in this encounter today that we hear of, we all are given the opportunity to step into this intimate moment and be filled with the holy spirit and freed from ourselves so that we too can say yes to new a new life, a new creation.

Micah, in today’s first reading, anticipates a new Israel, in someways personified in the story of Mary as we hear it. Here is a people that have faced great upheaval in their lives, constantly invaded from beyond the borders, and always facing outside threat. But there’s a new warning in anticipation of the new Israel, and that’s the threat from within. In our own sense, we face that as a country, that it is us who bring ourselves down without the need from an outside threat. But spiritually it’s also our greatest threat to a new life and new creation. It’s the war that often ensues within us and the voices that try to outdo the voice of God and our responding yes. We find ourselves over and over again saying yes to the wrong god, furthering ourselves from the new creation that is promised, barren and being called to come to our home, the womb within our hearts and souls. Yes, we know it’s a painful process. Birth always is. New life always is. That voice of God never gives up and is always calling us forth to a fuller life, an incarnate life.

Like Mary and Elizabeth, this new life demands our yes, as hard as that can be for any of us. We get in the way of the life that we have been formed for, the life God has planted within and now comes to fruition in the coming feast. With Mary and Elizabeth as our model in these final days of preparation, we pray, albeit painful, for an awareness of the competing voices in our hearts, that want less of us, desire the minimum to avoid rejection and pain, that tell us we can’t, that remind us just how impossible it all is and consistently keep us at war with ourselves and with God. As we pray for that awareness we anticipate the grace-filled moment, as did Mary and Elizabeth, as we encounter the Lord, when what was and seemed impossible became possible by and through a God, who now invites us into, a season of surprises, a season of new life!

A People of Promise

Jeremiah 33: 14-16; Luke 21: 25-28, 34-36

“Do you think this is the beginning of the end?” I was asked that question earlier this week upon discussions of world events, war, violence here and abroad, issues of climate, and every other issue that seems to plague our conversations and our politics. Do you think it’s the beginning of the end? Certainly if you listen to these readings now week after week they are quite ominous. They almost sound somewhat realistic to what’s going on around us and maybe even within us at times. There seems to be so much uncertainty. And, well, quite frankly, we’re not always good with uncertainty. We want to know. So is it the beginning of the end? My response was that it’s the beginning of the end of something, but I don’t know what. Nor do you know what that is and nor does anyone else. If anyone says they do, they’re lying to you. We always want to know but faith is about living in the unknown, even in the midst of what seems like the beginning of the end and some very turbulent times in our world and lives.

This season, though is about a promise, as we hear from Jeremiah today in the first reading. It’s not about a promise of the destruction of the world. It’s also not about the destruction of evil for that matter. That’s not God. That’s us and our own lack of faith and living with uncertainty and mystery. The promise of God, rather, is that of the restoration of Jerusalem. It’s about a new creation that will take shape. It’s a promise of life in the midst of the war, violence, and uncertainty. It’s a promise of a God made flesh. But where is it? It seems, and we’ve often told ourselves that it is about the destruction and the overtaking of such darkness. Yet, so often hidden in the darkness of our lives, life begins to sprout and call us to a new way of life, one that is rooted in this promise given to people Israel. Even for them it seemed as it was the beginning of the end. They often felt hopeless and helpless for that matter.

Yet, Jeremiah today reminds them of the promise that was and is made. They began to lose hope when leader after leader never met their expectations. They promised that things would change and yet, it never happened. One by one they bought into the corruption and power, leaving the people even more oppressed than before. It, of course, led to cover up and despair, greater confusion and chaos, a people looking for something to hold onto in all of it. There, in the darkness, the light begins to expose the darkness for what it is and a people are freed from the oppressors. The promise is not to destroy but to raise up life in the midst of it, a mystery revealed in the darkness of our lives, our city, and our world.

Luke, whom we will now hear from this next year, raises it to another level. It now goes beyond one another, even beyond nation against nation. We get that. It so often seems to be our way of life. Luke raises it now the cosmic level, where these great cosmic events will begin to unfold as a warning to the people that something is not right. It’s as Paul writes in another letter, that all of creation groans in labor pains. We get that too. When the promise of life is upon us, it comes at great cost and great pain. We live with the uncertainty. We want to feel secure and safe to protect that life. Yet, it’s not what Jeremiah speaks of nor what we have lulled ourselves into believing. He speaks of a God that will continue to provide for the people, even in their despair. We too quickly buy into fear, thinking we can somehow be safe and secure from all danger. If we only expel the darkness and evil to another location we will somehow be safe. That’s crazy talk! It’s also not faith. It’s not of a God who continues to reveal in the mystery of our lives and world, but rather a god created by us out of fear, perpetuating the injustice that people Israel continued to struggle with in their lives and that we struggle with this day.

It’s the beginning of the end of something but rooted in the promise of a new creation, of life. We know how it all feels and the experience of letting go and walking into the unknown. When we’ve experienced the loss of a loved one. When, all of a sudden, someone is diagnosed with a terminal disease. When relationships fail and divorce seems imminent. When people are killing other people right here on our streets of Baltimore. When we live, so often with a loss of hope that things will ever change, the promise of a new creation, of life.

As we enter into this great season of anticipation, we await the fulfillment of this promise. We await the fulfillment of the promise in our lives and in our world and in the world to come. When we begin to feel despair, we find hope in the promise. When we begin to feel engulfed with the darkness, we find hope in the promise. We are a people of promise and we don’t have to settle for anything less. When we do, we succumb to the fear of our own lives and our need for security and safety, we give into certainty, rather than falling into what this season is about, the mystery of life as it continues to unfold and call us forth to be the new creation to a people who walk in darkness.

Mirror of My Soul

2Sam 7: 1-5, 8-12, 14, 16; Luke 1: 26-38

The obvious connection with the first reading and Gospel today on this Fourth Sunday of Advent is the lineage of Jesus with David and the fulfillment of that line in Jesus through Mary. However, like most of Scripture there is often a deeper meaning and connection with them. You see, there’s something happening in both the life of David and Mary at this very moment. There’s a stirring deep within their hearts and souls of a God leading them to greater fulfillment in their lives and ultimately in the world. A God who can accomplish the impossible is hard at work and on the scene in both of their lives, both in very different places and circumstances of life, but both being stirred by this God who brings life.

For David, it’s probably similar to many of us, albeit it to the extreme. The reading even begins by mentioning that David had just gotten settled. It’s in that moment when he’s getting used to his role as King and the great palace that he now lives and the many walls and such that protect him, and yet, none of it is offering fulfillment in his life. He knows in his head that God is always with him; Nathan makes that point to him in the reading today in the reading today. Yet, as a visual, he then sees how the Ark of God dwells in comparison to himself, an earthly king. Here’s the ark in a tent, exposed to the elements, vulnerable, out there, in the line of fire, per say, and then here’s David in his protected walls and palace with everything at his fingertips. He can do anything he wants or desires and then there’s the Ark of God. In that very moment, things begin to stir within his heart and soul. It’s almost as if you were to hold up a mirror to David’s heart and soul, looking back would be what we hear in the gospel today, the unfolding of the annunciation and the beginnings of the incarnation of our God. Here’s David, long before Jesus ever enters the scene or is dreamed of, being moved in a way, deep within his own vulnerability and emptiness, his own empty crib as we see before us, a God who begins to stir within David to bring about the God in the flesh into the world and do great things, pondering all these things in his heart. Of course, he doesn’t always do it right. He abuses his power, takes advantage of the role he has has king, and yet, in a moment of vulnerability and emptiness, despite have everything he could possibly want or imagine, God begins to stir.

Mary experiences that same stirring and vulnerability within herself as she enters the scene. If you were here on the Immaculate Conception I had said Mary, of all the characters we encounter in Scripture, is probably one of the most misunderstood. We have done a greater job at creating her into who we want her to be or think we need her to be than to encounter her for who she is in this passage. Mary enters in poverty. Mary enters as peasant. Mary enters in a male-dominated world. Mary enters with absolutely no clout, like David, and is totally exposed and vulnerable as a young teenager. If there’s anything against anyone, it’s Mary, yet, she can’t ignore the stirring within her. She could try to ignore and pay no attention to it, but God has other plans and in the deepest part of Mary, pondering all these things in her heart and her empty crib, Mary responds with a yes despite the expectations of a world in which she grows up and lives. Mary goes against the tide and says yes to the incarnate, despite knowing the implications on her life, Joseph’s life, and the life of Jesus. When God stirs in our own vulnerability and empty crib, we come with great humility as Mary does knowing it was designed and built for one, our Lord.

There will be great demands brought upon all of us this week. We will do everything we can to fulfill expectations of others or even of ourselves. We will spend time with loved ones and even some we may not be fond of, but all along, God knows we’ve spent a great deal of this time trying to fill that longing and empty crib with many other things and so I go back to what I said on the First Sunday of Advent, how important it is to find silence in this time. We may not experience the empty crib right now. Some may experience it on Christmas but for many of us, we begin to experience it following Christmas when we begin to realize that so much of it hasn’t brought fulfillment. We didn’t get the right gift. They didn’t like what we had gotten them despite the hours walking in the mall. All of these things begin to grow within and like David and Mary and Elizabeth, that’s when God steps in and begins to stir us. If God were to place that mirror up to your heart and soul, what does God see? What have we tried to fill that crib with other than God? God invites us to sit with it long enough to allow the stirring to bring life and healing, for when we do, the impossible becomes the reality in our lives and world.

Reflectors of the Light

Isaiah 61: 1-2, 10-11; John 1: 6-8, 19-28

As much as Matthew, Mark, and Luke deal largely with the ministry of Jesus, John deals with much deeper issues beyond the doing of Jesus. As we make this tilt towards the final days of Advent, John begins to shift our focus from the end times to the indwelling of the Christ and the identity of Christ and His relation with the others he encounters, including whom we hear from today, John the Baptist. Both Jesus and John push back on a system, a patriarchal system that is still a part of who we are to this day, where identity it fully identified, at least as a man, in his role, function, what he does rather than a deeper understanding of who and whose he is.

But John’s not going to play that game. John has already moved beyond the normal roles in life and has found a deeper sense of who he is in Christ. He’s had to let go of what others think, their expectations and his own, the prescribed roles that would be expected and now lives from another place. Yet, he experiences this interrogation today by the scribes and pharisees who have defined roles and will do everything they can to try to box him in and pigeon hole John for who they want him to be rather than who he really is. They ask question of what he is and who he is…are the prophet, are you Elijah, are you the Christ, and again, rather than playing their game, John tries to change the rules and play by a different game.

As the Gospel of John goes on, it becomes somewhat laughable because Jesus’ approach is very much the same. He will experience the same push back and boxing in that John experiences in today’s gospel reading. It becomes laughable because it’s more evident as times goes on that they are often talking past one another and totally different planes. The Gospel writer may be a theologian of sorts, but he’s also a mystic in his own right. The shift takes place even in Jesus’ approach to ministry and becomes more evident in John’s Gospel. It appears to come from a different place. Rather than the doing defining Jesus, his very being, as the Christ, becomes the source of life. Think how often we try to define ourselves, others, and even God by who we want and expect them to be. We label ourselves by what we do and our jobs…teacher, doctor, priest, football player and so on, rather than see ourselves as brothers and sisters, sons and daughters of Christ and God. When we lose the role and functions, so many can no longer live because it’s all they have known. Both John the Baptist and Jesus point in another direction.

Now it takes great humility on the part of John the Baptist, and for us as well, to step aside and admit who we are and even who we aren’t. When he’s interrogated today, he is sure to note that he simply testifies to the light but is not the light. You see, the Baptist, like us, can never be the Light and we can never be Christ, the Baptist’s humility comes in the recognition and acceptance that he can simply testify to it. John reflects the light and he reflects the light. It’s a great deal of pressure and responsibility to put on ourselves when we think we can be something and someone that we are not. Yet, in the culture and world we live, many try. They try to live up to their own expectations and the expectations of others, boxing themselves in and simply settling for something much less than God ever intended for any of us.

Jesus too tries to expand that vision of who and whose we are. In Luke’s Gospel he quotes this passage we hear from Isaiah today, expanding the realms of God and salvation, the gift of the Christ goes beyond those who have deemed themselves worthy, such as the scribes and pharisees who often put themselves in the place of God, it now extends to the trenches and the fringes of society, the poor and downcast who have often been neglected. When our eyes begin to see differently and we no longer have to by into the boxed in world we create for ourselves by our roles and functions, we begin to see as God sees and we begin to reflect the light and reflect the Christ and see all as brothers and sisters, sons and daughters of Christ and God.

It’s easier said than done, but as we make this shift in the Advent season, where am I still boxing myself, others, and God in, making them in my image rather than accepting them for who and whose they are? The Christ-event which we prepare for and actively wait in anticipation, is the expansion of our world view and an expansion of our hearts and souls, making room and space for God and others who have been shunned by us for one reason or another. But we can take the pressure off knowing we aren’t the Light and we aren’t the Christ. All we can simply do is reflect and mirror the divine and to see it and accept it in the other. In these final days of this season, we pray that we may find and accept our true identity in Christ and allow God to incarnate in and through us as we reflect his love to a hurting world.

The Longing of Silence

Isaiah 63: 16-17, 19; 64: 2-7; Mark 13: 33-37

In 1964 Simon and Garfunkel released their hit Sound of Silence. Of course, many of you know it was a tumultuous time in the world and country, let alone the Church at that time. The Vietnam War was escalating and dragging on, bloodshed in the streets, the civil rights era was growing as segregation comes to a head, and even post-Vatican II in the life of the Church, felt like everything was in upheaval. In the midst of this all, this song, Sound of Silence is released, prophetic words at that time and possibly today as well when it feels as if we are right there again, tumultuous times in the country, community, and world, facing upheaval. What makes their words prophetic was their recognition of how comfortable we had become with darkness, even referring to it as friend. It’s as if we become accustomed to fear and violence, often leaving us feeling helpless and saying, “that’s just the way it is.”

In our own words of faith, they speak of the longing for the voice of reason and the voice of God to speak and rise up to something new. It is that which is squashed and told we are to fear, leaving us lonely and longing on a deeper level, wanting more, and yet, feeling like we must settle for what was. At times, feeling as if the silence is deafening and uncomfortable that we’d prefer to stay put rather than sit with what is uncomfortable, the longing within. Even the naysayers pick up on it all and convince us that the world is about to end, fear mongering, and it is in this present form, but as people of faith, we must also look at it as a birthing of something new and a letting go of what was, making space for our longing to give birth to new life, to a new way of living. Whether we like it or not, it is almost always coupled with violence, but isn’t the birth of a child somewhat painful and violent? Yet, life breaks forth beyond the pain and darkness.

Much of what we hear during this season, especially from the prophet Isaiah is an acknowledgment of that longing of people Israel and us as well. We hear that today, that over time, the hearts of people Israel have grown hardened by avoiding the silence and the longing within, thinking it can be answered and fulfilled outside themselves. It takes place following the exile as Isaiah crafts this prayer for a return of God’s favor to the people, an intervention by God into their lives. You would think a people that experienced the violence, bloodshed, famine, and overwhelming death would be quick to change their ways, and yet, what Isaiah witnesses is a people that slowly return to their old ways, a return to what brings comfort, trying to fill the longing of their hearts as individuals and a people in ways that just won’t work. As time passes, the voice of God begins to silence and the people are left wandering in their own lostness, wondering, where is their God who had led them out of exile, the God who had moved them beyond exodus, over and over again, the faithful God and potter who Isaiah speaks of in this prayer.

The disciples will quickly learn as well about that deep longing within as the ministry of Jesus ends at this part of Mark’s Gospel which we pick up in this new year, and from this moment on, the voice of Jesus, like it did for people Israel, will grow silent. As his voice grows silent, the disciples and Jesus experience violence and bloodshed. Once again the political and religious leaders will use fear, as is so often done today, to control and to squash that voice and eventually, kill it on the cross. Jesus and the disciples know all to well about that longing and the deafening silence that often ensues in these tumultuous times, times of uncertainty that leave us running for something else and something more, thinking it will be filled in other ways rather than sitting with our own uncomfortableness, our own interior silence and longing.

We know all to well during this season that there are many things that grab our attention and fill us with excuses as to why we don’t have time for prayer and silence. We have shopping to do, somehow trying to find that perfect gift, we have baking, card writing, and all the rest, and before you know it, it’s Christmas Eve and Advent has passed us by. My experience, that longing then begins to show itself the day after Christmas, when we couldn’t meet expectations, when it wasn’t the right gift, and so on, and we start to feel it within. As we enter into this season of Advent, these prophetic voices invite us into silence. They invite is into our own uncomfortableness. When we sit with it long enough, even if it’s a few minutes a day, God can begin to transform the longing into life, rather than us buying into the fear over and over. We all have it within us and we all need silence otherwise we act out that longing in so many different ways. The sound of silence can be deafening and avoided quite easily in our lives, but in giving birth, which itself is quite painful, God wants to meet us there to give birth to that longing into a newness of life.

Perfect Harmony

Isaiah 11: 1-10; Romans 15: 4-9; Matthew 3: 1-12

One of the things I remember from this season from when I was a kid, and it may seem a bit odd, is the old Coca-Cola commercials, I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing. I’m guessing many of you remember it. It contained people from all walks of life striving for a world of peace, harmony, and love. It’s a message that we hear quite often during Advent, a more just society. My guess is that it’s something that spoke to me somewhere deep within myself and have held onto it ever since.

Isaiah strikes that blend today in the First Reading in what may be one of his greatest works of poetry, where seeming opposites, contradictions, predators, come together as one, in that peace, harmony, and reconciliation. These prophetic voices of Isaiah, Paul, and John the Baptist are seeking out the better way of life, not only for themselves, but for the people they write and speak. So often they are writing to people who are on hard times. There are grave injustices that go on throughout the book of the prophet Isaiah, including now when it seems as if all has been lost in the family line of David. There has been corruption, injustice towards the poor, widowed, and children. It felt as if there was no hope left in the lineage and despite all the darkness that Isaiah had witnessed in his lifetime, today he offers this message of the one who will come and fulfill the line of David, of course, in the person of Jesus, God enfleshed. Who are the seeming opposites in our lives who need to reconcile? Where are the injustices that are held up against the hope that Isaiah offers? Where is our faith in the face of so much fear and uncertainty? With the death of Nelson Mandela this week, I was reminded of his own understanding that none of us are born to kill and to inflict violence, hold judgments and all the rest. It’s all stuff that we learn as we grow. It becomes attached to us and becomes how we see everything, unable to see beyond the color of skin, where we stand economically and socially or even someone’s faith background. What fears us so often is that we just don’t know where people are at and we judge them rather than challenge ourselves to understand and grow. Our lives are filled with these experiences that butt up against what our faith tells us we should be and what we profess.

It’s what John the Baptist attacks the Pharisees and Sadducees about and we will hear Jesus do the same in the year ahead. They never got along and the only thing that ever unites them is seeking out the death of Jesus. There was also tension between John’s followers and Jesus so we hear these weeks how John takes a back seat, much against those that thought he was the real deal. John prepares the way for the one that unites and brings peace and harmony, God enfleshed in Jesus Christ, who reconciles heaven and earth. Both John and Jesus lead their people and us beyond our comfort zone out into the desert parts of our own interior lives where we hold these tensions, seeming opposites, and paradoxes that continue to not only divide us from others and our faith, but they divide us and lead us to compartmentalize our faith as something we do rather than someone we are. Jesus will take us there and John prepares the way.

During this season of advent the message is often two-fold. Yes, there is that message of peace and harmony that Isaiah prophesizes and dreams of for the the city on the hill. He imagines a world free of oppression and injustice where people can come together as one. There is, however, that message that should challenge us, again to “wake up” from what we lull ourselves into throughout our lives…our own judgments and expectations, our hatred and bigotry, the injustice that we inflict upon others because we too keep our faith as something we do rather than allowing it to enflesh us in our very being. We so often feel comfortable with ignorance towards others rather than seeking understanding and reconciliation. It keeps us idle in our lives so often and now John calls us to repent, to change our ways and to let go of what keeps us from not only experiencing peace and harmony within our world, but also peace and harmony within ourselves. We can teach the world to sing a song of peace and harmony when we first allow it to take hold of our own being, trust in stepping out into our own darkness and confronting what divides our hearts, and in seeking out that little child that leads us out of fear to a life of wholeness and true holiness.