Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas Eve!

Greetings fellow Network of Love Lovers!

Keeping you posted about my whereabouts in Brazil...I am in Birigui, the city where my friend Rafael grew up and where his mom, dad, grandpa, and many of his closest friends still reside.

Right now, at this very moment, Rafael is holding a chicken (rooster) that his dad bought just a little while ago. Rafael´s grandpa told him that they had to buy a second chicken (a female one) to compliment the constantly coo-cooing male. He still makes his noises in the morning (believe me, I heard it loud and clear!), but he is more satisfied and at peace now that he has his female bird counterpart. As Rafael said this morning, he is kind of having fun with the chickens. It is sort of neat to see chickens hanging out in a small yard in a more residential, populated city.

Birigui is actually considered a very small city (100,000 people). Here in the state of Sao Paulo, that is very small. Last night, we went to a neighboring city Ara├žatuba to go out for the night with a few of Rafael´s friends. It was amazing! The city was charming, warm, full of people and life. The lights, the sounds, the breeze as we drove around. Rafael said his favorite part about going to the city is driving on the highway at night. I will agree with him that night driving on hot, sweaty summer nights, wind blowing on your face, thoughts drifting to the center of the moment and the wonderful people you are with, is a wonderful way to spend the last few moments before falling asleep.

The rhythm of the day here is really beginning to excite me. I can´t quite explain it, but it´s so unique and new to me. We anticipate the coming night, the cooler weather, when we can go outside and share in fellowship with friends and family. It is only fitting that tonight, we will anticipate the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, the baby in a manger that would influence so many people to try and live there lives wrapped up in the swaddling clothes of the moment...wrapped up in a reality that tries to bring peace to a struggling but hope-filled world.

There are moments in life that you can´t quite explain using words---it doesn´t matter who you are or what language you are trying to communicate in---many of the time spent here has been like that for me. I am learning what it means to anticipate life while appreciating what gifts are put in front of us every minute we breathe and try our best to live as people filled with joy.

May joy come to all of you tonight. PEACE ON EARTH and GOODNESS be with ALL PEOPLE.

A Christmas prayer from Henri Nouwen, a spiritual writer, psychiatrist, priest who has, as of late, been a real influence on me. I hope the poem, if you stumble upon this blog in the next few days, brings you joy and a sense of belonging while longing, during a season that can bring us the happiest of feelings mixed, uncomfortably, with some of the saddest of feelings. The Holidays seem to be about extremes...maybe this poem can bring you a leveling sense of peace and meaning during this Season.

A Christmas Prayer - by Henri Nouwen

O Lord, how hard it is to accept your way. You come to me as a small, powerless child born away from home. You live or me as a stranger in your own land. You die for me as a criminal outside the walls of the city, rejected by your own people, misunderstood by your friends, and feeling abandoned by your God.
As I prepare to celebrate your birth, I am trying to feel loved, accepted, and at home in this world, and I am trying to overcome the feelings of alienation and separation which continue to assail me. but I wonder now if my deep sense of homelessness does not bring me closer to you than my occasional feelings of belonging. Where do I truly celebrate your birth: in a cozy home or in an unfamiliar house, among welcoming friends or among unknown strangers, with feelings of well-being or with feelings of loneliness?
I do not have to run away from those experiences that are closest to yours. Just as you do not belong to this world, so I do not belong to this world. Every time I feel this way I have an occasion to be grateful and to embrace you better and taste more fully your JOY and PEACE.
Come, Lord Jesus, and be with me where I feel poorest. I trust that this is the place where you will ind your manger and bring your light. Come, Lord Jesus, Come. AMEN.

(Borrowed from Nouwen´s book The Road to Daybreak)

May we all come to a sense of friendship with loved ones and those we find difficult to spend time with or think about. We long to celebrate birth and life, celebrate the moment, and wish to remember those who struggle in our world.

Peace and Feliz Natal!

with love,

seu ´bawbi´ (that´s how it sounds when people here say my name) - bob : )

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