The Celtic Service

He and I had talked about it for about a year, intending to try out the Celtic Service at the local Episcopal church. We have now attended two of these services.

This is a quiet, solemn service, with beautiful instrumental music, unfamiliar (mostly) hymns; there is rising, sitting, rising, a program to help the uninitiated with knowing when to respond with “Lord, Hear Our Prayer”, and this Eucharist has no cracker or tiny cup of grape juice, but has a wafer to dip into the large goblet of wine.

One priest opens the service (male) and one priest offers the homily (female).

St. George’s is an affirming church, welcoming all, and has women in positions of leadership. Jesus is present, love is present. The Word is read. Prayers are prayed.

We will return again. It’s interesting to have such old practices feel so new and fresh. Let’s see where this journey takes us.

Favorite Reads in 2019

My FAVORITE read this year is In the Shelter by Padriag O’Tuama *also read two or three of his poetry books*

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb

The Dearly Beloved by Cara Wall

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid (audio)

I will finish up The Only Plane in the Sky – a 9/11 Oral History by Garrett M. Graff but I’ll count it on 2019 reads. (moving – especially on audio)

Holy Envy by Barbara Taylor Brown (audio)

Miracles and Other Reasonable Things: A Story of Unlearning and Relearning God by Sarah Bessey

Comedy Sex God by Pete Holmes (audio)

Inheritence by Dani Shapiro

Love You Hard : A Memoir of Marriage, Memory, and Reinventing Love by Abby Maslin

The Good House by Ann Leary (audio)

Once More We Saw Stars by Jayson Greene

Christmas Cards and Letters

(Written on my church blog – mirrored here.)

In an era of social media, are cards even necessary? Maybe not so much. But I think many of us still enjoy receiving or sending Christmas cards or photos. How about a real Christmas LETTER!? But oh, those Christmas letters – it seems they can inspire enjoyment — or cynicism.

I’ve long been in the camp of enjoying sending and receiving Christmas “Year in Review” letters and family photos. I got started writing my own Christmas letters after we moved away from friends and family in 1989. I was already a letter writer (pre-email) and this was just a natural continuation of that practice. I would include a holiday picture of our family, hard fought for since getting four kids to smile at the same time could be challenging. 🙂

It can still be fun to go to the mailbox to find that rare piece of REAL mail in an envelope with a stamp! Nearly as fun – opening an email that is a real “letter”. It’s great to have a few family photos from friends near and far to place on the refrigerator for a few months as reminders of the blessings in the friendships we have.

After years of printing out photos throughout the year for family photo albums, I find myself rarely getting hard copies of photos at this point. All of the smiling faces and beautiful records of vacations are trapped on computers or phones or on hard drives for the most part. But I encourage you – it’s worth printing out a few family photos to put in frames or place on the fridge. (Gift idea!?)

When it comes to the Christmas Letter – yes, I still compose one to send out to a few by email, along with some jpg photos tacked onto the end. It may be sent primarily to the friends or family members who are not as connected to social media platforms, or by request. And then – I print out a copy for me. After creating this annual letter for nearly two decades, I have a folder with my copies and it has become a record of our family’s happenings and what we’ve experienced year by year.

For those who still like receiving cards, photos, and even THE LETTER, maybe do your own to send out. Or maybe just do it for you – pause and contemplate the hard moments, the joyful moments, and everything in between. Type or write it up and attach some photos and start your own file. Remember your past year for a few moments; reflect, give thanks, maybe pause to mourn, and prepare for the the beginning of a new year when all things become new.