family time.

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my mini-retreat has ended… my love is home!!! now we’re enjoying a night on the sofa together. it’s amazing how being apart for just 2 days will make you appreciate each other even more. feels weird when we are apart, but it feels so amazing when we are back together again!

wishing all of you a cozy night! peace.

breathlessly waiting.

i’m still in the middle of my little personal retreat. i’m not quite ready to share what i’ve read from joseph campbell (the guy i referred to in yesterday’s post). i’m still soaking it in. i’ve been thinking about the things that he has written, but forefront on my mind today the season that is upon us now. so, that’s what i’m inspired to write about this morning as i sit under my covers, sip on my coffee and smell the candles lit in my fairly dark bedroom.

whether you think of it consciously or not, we are in a season of waiting. these gray, mostly dreary days blend into the dark nights that seem to last forever. the leaves are all gone from the trees, only wooden skeletons remain. energy is at an all-time low for the year. and just at the time when stress seems to be at an all-time high. even the news on tv & in the papers seems to be worse than ever.

where is the light? we need some light. we are stuck in darkness, doubt, pain, fear. we see & experience violence, suffering, injustice. it’s depressing. we feel alone & even hopeless. and it seems like the whole world & all of nature reflects these feelings of dread & boredom. we’re longing for a solution.

so we’re impatiently waiting. where is our salvation from this gloominess? is it coming? will we ever feel free again? but, even with all of these questions, something deep down inside of us, from our soul, reminds us that this is only temporary. light will come. the days will become longer. spring will arrive. the earth will renew itself. something will happen. it just has to.

as a believer in something spiritual, something holy & sacred, it is during this season that i see how everything is connected. and i feel something from deep within me rising up. hope. for all of the injustice, pain, & suffering that we experience in this world, something from deep within me reassures me that this is not how it is intended to be, that the world is full of beauty & love. i believe that the Holy is in everyone & everything, that we will not be stuck in this darkness forever, because we have been created to live life & to share love with one another. nature reveals this every year as the seasons pass. i can see the Holy everywhere, if i’m only aware, if i only recognize that the Holy is revealed in nature, people, in everything that is.

for me, this season of darkness, of waiting is so slow… and yet,  it leaves me so breathless. it’s like knowing that something amazing is right around the corner, but not knowing exactly when it will happen. the control freak in me wants to know exactly what will happen & when. but, then again, the thought of the surprise, imagining the possibilities, dreaming of what is to come is just as exciting. and scary, too.

this season i’m speaking about is the season of advent. the season of waiting & preparation before christmas. advent (from latin) actually means “coming” or “arrival”. it is a time of longing & expectation. but, for what? what are we longing for, expecting, waiting for, preparing for? i’m waiting, longing, expecting, & preparing for hope & love.

it’s important for me to prepare… to not just walk blindly through the dark days, stressed out at all the activities, shopping, general craziness that makes up this season. it’s important to me to slow down, to remember why i celebrate christmas – to remember the people of ancient days who spoke to their communities about all of the atrocities they were involved in, how far they had strayed from living lives of justice, love, & peace. and when i hear those ancient words, i realize exactly how appropriate those words are for us today too. it’s important to me to also hear the promises of peace & joy, and the challenge for me to be a partner in making that peace & joy a reality here on earth today. i need this dark time to reflect on my part, what can i do? what have i done? what have i left undone? it’s important to me to remember that this season prepares me to accept/see/believe that the Holy breaks into the middle of life… holiness is not something way up there, far away, unable to touch or reach. it’s something so close that it’s in our breath. advent reminds me that we are not alone, we have each other, we are all connected, and we have a calling/a purpose (to follow our bliss, our soul).

advent reminds me that all of our stories are unique and yet, the same. and it’s important for me to hear again the story, the myth, of mary & the little baby born in a stable. it’s the story of something holy happening in middle of something so ordinary. a teenage girl, a dirty stable, poor shepherds, animals, a baby born into poverty. from the lowest of the low, from the outcasts in society comes hope. oh, how we’ve gotten things all mixed up. we think that money, power, prestige, success, and material things are holy & important. we think that’s where we’ll find our freedom & happiness. instead, that which touches our soul & sets us free is something much more simple.

advent reminds me of what’s important. and i keep breathlessly waiting, as i do every year, for the hope & light to break in. i am waiting to celebrate that love has come to the world… to meet us where we are, to love us as we are, and to send us forth to share that love which is acceptance, peace, joy, justice. it has come. it is with us now. it will come again. and hopefully, i will be ready. but for now, i am breathlessly waiting…

an advent tradition: light a candle every sunday as we wait & prepare for christmas. (advent is the 4 weeks before christmas)

an amazing, everyday view of advent through the eyes of one of my favorite authors:

The house lights go off and the footlights come on. Even the chattiest stop chattering as they wait in darkness for the curtain to rise. In the orchestra pit, the violin bows are poised. The conductor has raised his baton.

In the silence of a midwinter dusk, there is far off in the deeps of it somewhere a sound so faint that for all you can tell it may be only the sound of the silence itself. You hold your breath to listen.

You walk up the steps to the front door. The empty windows at either side of it tell you nothing, or almost nothing. For a second you catch a whiff of some fragrance that reminds you of a place you’ve never been and a time you have no words for.

You are aware of the beating of your heart…The extraordinary thing that is about to happen is matched only by the extraordinary moment just before it happens. Advent is the name of that moment.

The Salvation Army Santa Claus clangs his bell. The sidewalks are so crowded you can hardly move. Exhaust fumes are the chief fragrance in the air, and everybody is as bundled up against any sense of what all the fuss is really about as they are bundled up against the windchill factor.

But if you concentrate for just an instant, far off in the depths of you, somewhere you can feel the beating of your own heart. For all its madness and lostness, not to mention your own, you can hear the world itself holding its breath.

from whistling in the dark, by frederick buechner.

peace on your journey.

what to do with my monday.

a rainy window, with christmas lights outside, on the first sunday in advent.

last night there was a storm all across southern sweden. kind of a scandinavian hurricane, you could say. it’s been chaos… no electricity, transportation issues, wind & rain & flooding damage. it wasn’t too bad here (we live in the northern part of southern sweden. make sense?), but there was a lot of wind & rain. no real damage. so, we were able to hunker down & enjoy a relaxing sunday night. as the wind & rain pelted our windows… what a great way to go to sleep at night.

but, this morning we woke up really early. at 6:00 am, my love left for a 2 day conference in stockholm. zola (our cat) & i will stay home & take care of business here for the next 2 days. so, what will we do? (i am “off” since my internship supervisors = my wife & her colleague, are at the conference). the only thing i have planned  is laundry this afternoon. other than that, the hours stand in front of me quite empty. that feels good & not so good at the same time.

when i woke this morning (for the second time. i slept again after lina left. hehe), i turned on my computer, read some blogs & checked the news. one blog had tons of creative thoughts about advent, and somehow i ended up all over the place, clicking here & there, and before i knew it, i was researching a person that influenced (and still influences) many people to embrace their journey in life & to live life to the fullest. i was so inspired; & i was so amazed that i had never discovered this person before!

then it occurred to me, i have 2 days in front of me. two days to take care of some things at home, to do a tiny bit of work, and to (wait for it….) study! yes, that’s right. study. my love may be at a cool conference in stockholm, but i’m going to have my own little conference here at home. i’m gonna immerse myself in life, words, & work of joseph campbell. not to worry, i will explain & write more later, you can count on it… ‘cuz from what i’ve read so far, his ideas, thoughts, & beliefs are amazing!

so, it’s gonna be a quiet & cozy monday and tuesday. i’m gonna soak up some inspiring words. read a little, watch a documentary, and take some time for myself. call it a little retreat. it’s weird to be without my love, and things feel different/empty when we are separated (even for 2 days, cheesy, i know). but, here’s me making the best of it, using my time creatively, and beginning my journey through advent to christmas with some quiet, cozy, inspirational moments.

happy monday. wishing you peace & light.

it’s time!

well, it’s the end of november and we’ve celebrated thanksgiving – that cozy all-american holiday. lots of planning, lots of waiting, lots of cooking, a little stress thrown in, & lots of food. yes, today, we had thanksgiving here in our little apartment in sweden with some of lina’s family. it was a cozy, relaxed evening together & it was super fun to see swedes try out some typical american thanksgiving food (that’s right. i cooked. a crapload of food!). some of our dishes were completely new to our guests (green bean casserole – which i now declare the favorite thanksgiving dish of all swedes), and some guests were doing thanksgiving with us for the 2nd time. in any case, it was good fun & we definitely all had the required food coma afterwards! i am so grateful that all the guests were willing to come & celebrate with us… feels like i had a real thanksgiving & that means so much to me!

but, directly after the guests left, it was time… time to put out all of our advent/christmas decorations! well, no tree. following swedish tradition (and because it’s more logical too), we will get our real swedish tree during the week before christmas. still, we’ve got candles galore (but, you all know by now that candles are a must in this household) and beautiful lights in our windows… another swedish tradition. i know that in the states, some people put a single candle (plug in, of course) in the window, but here it’s multiple candles or big stars. we’ve got some of both! let me just say here that being an international couple has it’s perks… it is so much fun to blend our traditions, create new ones, and celebrate holidays from both countries. how freaking lucky am i?!

ok. here are some pictures… check ‘em out!

the big christmas tree is up in the city hall square… waiting for lights.

 sweet potato pie comin’ up!

 green bean casserole. a favorite of everyone!

 the table is set.

 the food is ready!

and we’re ready to sit down!

 i noticed that the big tree is now lit! so, it’s time to get busy decorating!

 other buildings are in the christmas lighting spirit too. i love it!

 dinner is over, the guests have gone, and now it’s time for us to bring the christmas cheer home!

 typical window decorations, with some indian-inspired candles also. oh! and a christmas tree lit up outside (in the little apartment square/park below us).

 an amazing star in the window (and another shot of the tree outside our apartment). i looove this pic (by lina).

 and of course, christmas candles.

so, we’re all ready to begin our advent journey and officially begin the christmas season! it’s here! it’s finally here!

hope you are having a beautiful, beginning of the holiday season weekend! peace & love.

it’s in the rain.

some beautiful, calm, peaceful music for rainy wednesday…

it’s in the rain.

Everytime the rain comes down
Close my eyes and listen
I can hear the lonesome sound
Of the sky as it cries

Listen to the rain
Here it comes again
Hear it in the rain

Feel the touch of tears that fall
They won’t fall forever
In the way the day will flow
All things come, all things go

Listen to the rain… the rain
Here it comes again… again
Hear it in the rain… the rain

Late at night I drift away
I can hear you calling
And my name is in the rain
Leaves on trees whispering
Deep blue seas, mysteries

Even when this moment ends
Can’t let go this feeling
Everything will come on again
In the sound falling down
Of the sky as it cries
Hear my name in the rain

peace.