Last year, my family attended a Christmas Eve Catholic mass, as we usually do. Though I grew up as a Roman Catholic, I left that church for the United Church of Christ many years ago. Over the years, I have learned to appreciate the richness of the Catholic tradition, even if I have moved in a different theological and spiritual direction. Still, I am often jarred by the patriarchal language predominately used during mass. (i.e. using the pronoun ‘He’ for God and seeing only men in leadership.) We had arrived early in order to get a seat in what would become a standing-room-only crowd only a few minutes later. With extra time, I decided to meditate on the sounds and smells of the bustling activity around me.

Once mass started, I had already spent at least 20 minutes in meditation. When the jarring words of the Catholic Mass reached my ears, I returned to meditation, to a deeper, more energetic connection to everything around me. Concentrating on feeling into energy of the words rather than my normal irritation with the abrasive language, I felt into Christmas. What I felt when I allowed myself to dissolve into that slice of the universe was so pure — the hope, peace, joy and, especially, love that pervades this season. I felt, perhaps for the first time ever, its real essence.

What I think I felt was a pure celebration of God’s love made incarnate. The celebration of the birth of God-in-flesh — the embodiment of a God that loves us so much it became what it loved — a small, tiny human.

Love is perhaps the most revered, the most desired, the most coveted feeling in life. Too often we rest into the feelings of when we lacked it or lost it. These Advent and Christmas seasons give us more than four weeks to remind us that Divine Love is ever present and abundant. Love shines brightly with the most lights during the night — a tangible reminder of love’s steady persistence in all times, but especially this Advent season.

I am so grateful that you all who have joined me on this creative journey of hope, peace, joy and love this Advent season. If you sign up for my email list, you can still get a free copy of “A Mindful Advent: Four Practices for the Lighting of the Advent Wreath.” (Hold onto it until next year!) You can also meditate again and again to the live meditations I’ve been doing on FB Live. The recordings are available in the video section of my Facebook page.