Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category

An Illuminated Advent – 2014

November 7, 2014

Illuminated Advent Retreat

For the past six weeks, I have been on My Big Road Trip. It has been such a gift to take to the road, with little agenda or schedule, and receive the treasures of hospitality and solace I have found on the path between Florida and Canada. Now it is nearly time to return home. As I prepare to go, I’m so aware of traveling not only toward Orlando but also toward Advent, with great anticipation as I dream and imagine what the coming season might hold.

I am eager to begin the all-new online retreat that I’m offering for Advent, and I would love for you to join me! If you are hungry for a simple way to move deeply into this season, this retreat is for you. Some details are below, along with a link to our main info and registration page for the retreat.

ILLUMINATED 2014: An Online Journey into the Heart of Christmas
November 30-December 27
All new for 2014!

Are you hungry for an experience that invites you into Advent without stressing your schedule? This online retreat is not about adding one more thing to your holidays. It is about helping you find spaces for reflection that draw you deep into this season that shimmers with mystery and possibility. Intertwining reflection, art, music, and community, this online retreat provides a space of elegant simplicity and a distinctive opportunity to travel through Advent and Christmas in contemplation and conversation along the way.

This is an Advent retreat for people who don’t have time for an Advent retreat (and for those who do!). You can easily enter into it in the way that works best for you, from anywhere you are. You don’t have to show up at a particular time or place, and you’re welcome to engage the retreat as much or as little as you wish. This is for you: a space to breathe deeply and to experience renewal that will make a difference in how you move through the season.

Individual, group, and congregational rates are available. You can also give the retreat as a gift! For retreat details, FAQs, and registration, visit Illuminated Advent Retreat.

Blessings to you as Advent draws near!

Epiphany: This Brightness That You Bear

January 2, 2014


Image: This Brightness That You Bear © Jan L. Richardson

Reading from the Gospels, Epiphany, Years ABC: Matthew 2.1-12

They set out; and there, ahead of them,
went the star that they had seen at its rising,
until it stopped over the place where the child was.
—Matthew 2.9

Many of you know that my amazing husband, Garrison Doles, died unexpectedly at the beginning of Advent, after experiencing complications during what we had anticipated would be a fairly routine surgery in mid-November. (I invite you to read this remembrance and blessing I wrote for Gary, if you haven’t seen it.) I am so grateful for all those who encircled us from near and far while Gary was in the hospital, and who are continuing to encompass our family during this time of stunning heartbreak. Every prayer, every word, every good thought has been such a tremendous gift in this dark season.

Gary and I are astoundingly fortunate in our families, who in these past weeks have held the light for us in ways that I can barely begin to thank them for. But this Christmas, I wanted to make the attempt, to at least try to offer up some words to honor the extraordinary lengths they have gone to in order to walk this journey with us. I wrote a blessing for them; today’s image is for them as well. I gave these to them on Christmas Day.

On Christmas Day I also shared the blessing and artwork with those who joined me in the online Illuminated Advent Retreat, by way of thanks for how they traveled with me through a season that was so different than I had anticipated. For Epiphany, I want to share this with you. For the light you bear in this world: thank you. If you are in a dark season of your own, or know someone who is, may this come as a gift and a prayer that you will receive the light you need.

Blessings and gratitude to you as Epiphany draws near.

This Brightness That You Bear
A Blessing for My Family

This blessing
hardly knows what to say,
speechless as it is
not simply
from grief
but from the gratitude
that has come with it—

the thankfulness that sits
among the sorrow
and can barely begin
to tell you
what it means
not to be alone.

This blessing
knows the distances
you crossed
in person
in prayer
to enter into
days of waiting,
nights of long vigil.

It knows the paths
you traveled
to be here
in the dark.

Even in the shadows
this blessing
sees more than it can say
and has simply
come to show you
the light
that you have given

not to return it
to you
not to reflect it
back to you
but only to ask you
to open your eyes
and see
the grace of it,
the gift that shines
in this brightness
that you bear.


P.S.
I come bearing a few more Epiphany gifts for you…

CELEBRATING WOMEN’S CHRISTMAS
At my Sanctuary of Women site, you can find a brand-new retreat that I’ve designed for Women’s Christmas, which some folks celebrate on Epiphany. To learn more about Women’s Christmas and download the retreat (at no cost), click the image or link below.


Women’s Christmas: The Shimmering Hours


OTHER EPIPHANIES
For previous reflections for Epiphany, including “Blessing of the Magi,” click these images or the titles below.


Epiphany: Blessing of the Magi



Epiphany: Blessing for Those Who Have Far to Travel



Epiphany: Where the Map Begins



Feast of the Epiphany: Blessing the House


AND A FESTIVE DISCOUNT
In celebration of the season, the Advent discount on annual subscriptions to Jan Richardson Images (the website that makes my work available for use in worship) will be available through Epiphany Day (January 6). For info, visit:


Jan Richardson Images

[To use the image “This Brightness That You Bear,” please visit this page at janrichardsonimages.com. Your use of janrichardsonimages.com helps make the ministry of The Painted Prayerbook possible. Thank you!]

A Women’s Christmas Gift for You

January 4, 2013


Image: Wise Women Also Came © Jan L. Richardson

These three wise women are stopping by with a gift for you. In celebration of Women’s Christmas, which is observed in some parts of the world on Epiphany/January 6, I’ve created a retreat for you. Designed for you to use on Women’s Christmas or whenever you need a space of respite and reflection, the retreat (which you can download as a PDF) offers readings, art, and blessings that invite you to take a pilgrimage into your own life.

There’s no cost for the retreat; it’s a Women’s Christmas gift especially for you! You’re welcome to share it with friends. For a link to the retreat and more about Women’s Christmas, visit this page at my Sanctuary of Women blog:

Women’s Christmas: The Map You Make Yourself

A Merry Women’s Christmas and Blessed Epiphany to you!

Epiphany: Blessing of the Magi

December 30, 2012


Image: By Another Road © Jan L. Richardson

Reading from the Gospels, Epiphany, Years ABC: Matthew 2.1-12

And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod,
they left for their own country by another road.
—Matthew 2.12

Blessing of the Magi

There is no reversing
this road.
The path that bore you here
goes in one direction only,
every step drawing you
down a way
by which you will not
return.

You thought arrival
was everything,
that your entire journey
ended with kneeling
in the place
you had spent all
to find.

When you laid down
your gift,
release came with such ease,
your treasure tumbling
from your hands
in awe and
benediction.

Now the knowledge
of your leaving
comes like a stone laid
over your heart,
the familiar path closed
and not even the solace
of a star
to guide your way.

You will set out in fear
you will set out in dream

but you will set out

by that other road
that lies in shadow
and in dark.

We cannot show you
the route that will
take you home;
that way is yours
and will be found
in the walking.

But we tell you
you will wonder
at how the light you thought
you had left behind
goes with you,
spilling from
your empty hands,
shimmering beneath
your homeward feet,
illuminating the road
with every step
you take.

P.S. I have a few more Epiphany treats for you!

First: At my Sanctuary of Women site, you can find a brand-new retreat that I’ve designed for Women’s Christmas, which some folks celebrate on Epiphany. To learn more about Women’s Christmas and download the retreat (at no cost), click the image or link below.

Women’s Christmas: The Map You Make Yourself

Then: For previous reflections for Epiphany, including “Blessing for Those Who Have Far to Travel,” click this image or title:

Epiphany: Blessing for Those Who Have Far to Travel

And for the final treat: The special Advent discount on annual subscriptions to Jan Richardson Images (the website that makes my work available for use in worship) will be available through Epiphany Day (January 6). For info, visit:

Jan Richardson Images

[To use the image “By Another Road,” please visit this page at janrichardsonimages.com. Your use of janrichardsonimages.com helps make the ministry of The Painted Prayerbook possible. Thank you!]

Beginning

November 29, 2012


Image: Drawing Near © Jan L. Richardson

Very excited to be beginning Advent this Sunday! I wanted to share a quick reminder that the online Advent retreat that Gary and I will be offering begins this Saturday. There’s still time to register, and we would love for you to join us. You can click the icon below to visit our retreat page, where you’ll find an overview of the retreat, which goes from December 1-29. Know that we’ve designed the retreat so that it’s not simply “one more thing” to add to the holiday schedule, but rather something that slips into the rhythm of your December days and invites you into a bit of reflection and breathing space in the midst of the season. And it doesn’t require showing up at a particular place or time. You can do this retreat in your jammies!

Don’t forget to also check our FAQ page if you have questions, or challenges that might cause you to hesitate to register for the retreat. If you’ve already registered, there’s nothing else you need to do just yet.

I’ve also posted my first reflection of the season at The Advent Door; you can find it at “Advent 1: Drawing Near.” The Advent Door is where I’ll be hanging out, blog-wise, during the coming season, and I’d be glad to have your company there. If you’re not already an Advent Door subscriber, you can sign up to receive the Advent Door blog posts via email; check out the “Subscribe by email” box in the sidebar (near the top, just above the cover for my Night Visions book).

Blessings to you as Advent arrives! I wish you a wondrous season.

Almost Advent

November 21, 2012

It’s almost Advent! As we prepare to cross into the coming season, I am especially excited about what Advent holds in store this time around. At the top of my list of things that are inducing Advent excitement is the online Advent retreat that Gary and I will be offering. Here’s the skinny:

ILLUMINATED: An Online Journey into the Heart of Christmas
December 1-29

Travel toward Christmas in the company of folks who want to move through this season with mindfulness and grace. This online retreat is not about adding one more thing to your holiday schedule. It is about helping you find spaces for reflection that draw you deep into this season that shimmers with mystery and possibility. This retreat offers a space of elegant simplicity, much like the one created in my Advent book Night Visions. Intertwining reflection, art, music, and community, this four-week online retreat provides a distinctive opportunity to travel through Advent and Christmas in contemplation and conversation with others along the way.

This is an Advent retreat for people who don’t have time for an Advent retreat (and for those who do!). You don’t have to show up at a particular place or time, and you’re welcome to engage the retreat as much or as little as you wish. You can do this retreat in your jammies!

We’re excited that the retreat is already drawing folks from around the world. We’d love for you to be among them. For more info about the retreat, visit Illuminated Advent Retreat.

I have other treasures, treats, and resources designed especially for your Advent path; I invite you to stop by The Advent Door to find out more. During Advent, that’s where I’ll be posting new reflections. I look forward to journeying through the season with you there, and returning to The Painted Prayerbook for Epiphany.

Blessings and gratitude to you as Advent approaches!

Epiphany: Where the Map Begins

December 30, 2010


An Ancient Light © Jan L. Richardson

Reading from the Gospels, Epiphany ABC: Matthew 2.1-12

I love this time between Christmas Day and Epiphany. Although the prospect of moving beyond the holidays is always a bit poignant for me, I take comfort in knowing that the festival of Christmas lasts not for one day but for twelve, and there is still cause for celebration before we leave this season. This year in particular I am grateful for the opportunity to rest and reflect, and to do some dreaming as well as playing before I dive into the coming year.

In these blissfully quiet days, I have spent time curled up with a few books. One that I am especially savoring was a Christmas gift from my parents. Mapping the World: Stories of Geography, written by Caroline and Martine Laffon, is a beautifully produced book that traces some of the history of how we humans have sought to chart the universe, and our place within it, over millennia. With images of maps from ancient to contemporary times, the book reveals how maps are never neutral documents: they provide a glimpse of the beliefs, myths, legends, and sometimes prejudices of those who created them.

I have spent much time this year thinking about maps. In retreats, workshops, worship, and conversation, the question has surfaced again and again: In a world that we enter with no map in hand, no blueprint, no book of instructions, how do we find our way? In the Wellspring service, the contemplative worship gathering that Gary and I lead, we recently finished a five-part series titled “Mapping the Mysteries of Faith.” As we explored this theme and the questions that it stirred, the conversations we had at Wellspring were rich and refreshing. We didn’t leave with many answers—that’s not the point of the Wellspring service—but I found myself reminded once again of how crucial it is to have the company of wise travelers as we make our own maps.

With Epiphany on the horizon, I find myself thinking of the magi, those ancient travelers who went in search of the Christ. Wise to the heavens, they still possessed no map, no ready-made chart that laid out their course.  As Matthew tells it, all that the magi had to illuminate their terrain and guide their way was a star. This was where their map began: with a burning light, with a step taken, with the company of others gazing in the same direction.

In that spirit, here’s a new poem. Composed while I was curled up among the books, it’s for Epiphany, and for you.

Where the Map Begins

This is not
any map you know.
Forget longitude.
Forget latitude.
Do not think
of distances
or of plotting
the most direct route.
Astrolabe, sextant, compass:
these will not help you here.

This is the map
that begins with a star.
This is the chart
that starts with fire,
with blazing,
with an ancient light
that has outlasted
generations, empires,
cultures, wars.

Look starward once,
then look away.
Close your eyes
and see how the map
begins to blossom
behind your lids,
how it constellates,
its lines stretching out
from where you stand.

You cannot see it all,
cannot divine the way
it will turn and spiral,
cannot perceive how
the road you walk
will lead you finally inside,
through the labyrinth
of your own heart
and belly
and lungs.

But step out,
and you will know
what the wise who traveled
this path before you
knew:
the treasure in this map
is buried not at journey’s end
but at its beginning.

As we travel through these Christmas days toward Epiphany and the coming year, where do you find yourself in your map? What are you giving your attention to? Are you looking in a direction that enables you to see possible paths? Is there a turn you need to take in your map? Where might you begin? Who can help?

As we travel toward Epiphany and beyond, blessings and good company to you.

[For previous Epiphany reflections, visit Feast of the Epiphany: Blessing the House; Feast of the Epiphany: A Calendar of Kings; Inviting Epiphany; and The Feast of the Epiphany: Magi and Mystery.]

[To use the “An Ancient Light” image, please visit this page at janrichardsonimages.com. Your use of janrichardsonimages.com helps make the ministry of The Painted Prayerbook possible. Thank you!]

Into Advent

November 22, 2010


Where Advent Begins © Jan L. Richardson

The elves and I are busy in the studio, happily painting and plotting as we prepare for Advent to begin this Sunday. During the coming season, I’ll be posting new reflections and artwork over at The Advent Door instead of here at The Painted Prayerbook. I’ve already added a couple of entries there and would be delighted for you to stop by. I’m planning to post at The Advent Door several times each week and look forward to sharing the coming days with you. I have lots of other resources for Advent and Christmas; you can find out more here.

I am also thrilled to say that my new book, In the Sanctuary of Women, was published last month. You can find more info and place orders on the Books page at my main website, where inscribed copies are available by request. I have also launched a companion site for the book at sanctuaryofwomen.com. More than just a site about the book, sanctuaryofwomen.com is designed to foster conversation and community through such features as the Guide for Reading Groups and the Sanctuary blog. I’d love for you to visit!

And if you live in central Florida, please join us for a special holiday evening to celebrate the book’s publication. The gathering will be Friday, December 3, at 8 PM at First United Methodist Church of Winter Park (near Orlando). For further info, visit Sanctuary Celebration.

In this week in which we celebrate U.S. Thanksgiving, know that I am grateful for you. Many blessings to you as we cross into Advent.

On the Sickth Day of Christmas

December 30, 2009


Magi and Mystery © Jan L. Richardson

Reading from the Gospels, Epiphany, Years ABC: Matthew 2.1-12

I’ve spent the past few days dealing with an unexpected Christmas guest: a rare (for me) head cold. It’s one way to get a break, I suppose, but not the way that I’d planned to spend these lovely days between Christmas Day and Epiphany. I finally gave in and went to the doctor today and trust I’ll be back in the swing of things soon.

I had planned to post a new reflection for Epiphany early this week, and still have hopes of doing so before the week is out; we’ll see how that goes. In the meantime, I invite you to visit my previous Epiphany posts: Magi and Mystery, Inviting Epiphany, and Feast of the Epiphany: A Calendar of Kings.

To see all my artwork for the Feast of the Epiphany, please visit this page at janrichardsonimages.com.

On this sixth day of Christmas, I wish you peace and good health!

On the Fourth Day of Christmas

December 28, 2009


The Hour of Vespers: Flight to Egypt © Jan L. Richardson

With Advent being my busiest season of the entire year, it comes as something of a comfort to me that Christmas is not just a single day: in the rhythm of the liturgical year, Christmas lasts for twelve days. There’s some variation of opinion as to when the Twelve Days of Christmas begin; some say Christmas night, others begin the count on December 26. Regardless, the season of Christmas ends with the Feast of the Epiphany on January 6. No matter how you count it, the days of Christmas invite us not to be too hasty in bringing an end to our celebration of the Incarnation. For me, this celebration includes giving my incarnated self some rest and savoring the delights that the season yet offers to us.

The Twelve Days of Christmas include several feast days that help define the season. December 26 was the Feast of St. Stephen (featured in the carol “Good King Wenceslas”), the first Christian to die for bearing witness to the one who had come as Emmanuel, God with us. Yesterday was the feast of St. John. Today, December 28, is the Feast of the Holy Innocents—the male children slaughtered by the soldiers of King Herod, as told in Matthew 2.16-18. (The Eastern Orthodox Church observes this on December 29.) This grim feast day reminds us to acknowledge the shadow side of the Christmas season: amid our celebration of the Christ who came as the light of the world, the presence of evil persists. To truly celebrate the birth of Christ means working against the forces that perpetuate suffering.

The Massacre of the Innocents appears often in medieval artwork, usually in gruesome detail and sometimes in connection with the Flight to Egypt (Mary, Joseph, and Jesus’ escape from the soldiers). The image above is from my Advent Hours series and depicts an intriguing variation on the story of the Flight to Egypt that incorporates St. Brigid, the famed Irish saint. Many ancient prayers and legends from Celtic lands refer to St. Brigid of Kildare as the foster-mother of Christ and the midwife at his birth. Even for the wonderworking Brigid, this would have been a great feat, as she was born in the fifth century. Yet in a culture in which the bond of fostering was often stronger than the bond of blood, this notion reveals something of the deep esteem that Brigid attracted, and it’s a way of describing how she helped to prepare a way for Christ as the Christian faith took root in Ireland. A particularly lovely legend tells that St. Brigid, upon seeing Herod’s soldiers enter the city to slaughter the young boys, quickly fashioned a wreath of candles. Placing it upon her head, she began to dance, distracting the soldiers and allowing the Holy Family to flee to safety.

On this feast day, Brigid’s legend and the story of the slaughter of the innocents calls me to consider what I’m doing, or need to do, to help protect those who suffer most in our world. As I rest for a bit in this Christmas season, as I linger with what the season continues to offer, how might this be a time of discernment and preparation for the work that lies ahead?

What’s stirring for you as we move through the Christmas season? What might this Twelve-Days-Feast have yet to offer you in the way of both delights and questions for your path ahead?

If you didn’t have occasion to visit The Advent Door during the past weeks, I invite you to stop by there as we move through these lingering days of Christmas. As we journey toward Epiphany, may you find in these days a continued celebration and the sustenance you need to walk in the way of Christ, the Word made flesh. Blessings and peace to you!

[To use this image, please visit this page at janrichardsonimages.com. Your use of janrichardsonimages.com helps make the ministry of The Painted Prayerbook possible. Thank you!]