by Susanna Bertelsen

Like many people, I enjoy sending and receiving Christmas letters. Unfortunately, I am usually late with the mailings.  This year, however, I started the process early… the first week of Advent! It had been my 2018 New Year’s resolution…to send greetings so they arrived before December 25, 2018!  As I reviewed the year’s worth of photos, I kept coming back to this one from January, 2018.

Susanna's backyard in winter

Indeed, sunny, beautiful Minnesota winters offer peaceful mornings for backyard reflection! My Advent meditations on this photo led me to recognize those areas of darkness and shadows in my life where I have needed God’s grace.  Waiting patiently for God’s grace to break through can be challenging! Then, like the sun in this photo, God’s grace eventually rises up in many forms, to offer healing, hope, peace.  “O come, O come, Emmanuel,” the carol sings, – “God is with us.”

I began to consider the meaning of Christmas and Epiphany when one morning early in Advent, another reminder of God’s presence popped up in an email from an acquaintance in the form of a prayer.  With gratitude, I now share this with you, dear neighbor, as we celebrate these great feasts, Christmas and Epiphany, and invite you to ponder.

“May today there be peace within.

  May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.

  May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.

  May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.

  May you be content knowing you are a child of God.

  Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.

  It is there for each and every one of us.”                                 -attributed to St. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582)

Merry Christmas!    God sent his Son as Divine Gift!        May you find peace in your heart in 2019!