Beneath the Winter Hat and the Parka and . . .

Yesterday marked the 50th subzero morning of winter in the Twin Cities. It’s not the snow but the extreme cold that makes it brutal. According to the National Weather Service, this winter ranks fifth for Minneapolis and St. Paul in the total number of subzero low temperatures since 1871, when the U.S. Army Signal Service began recording weather observations in downtown St. Paul. So I hope that you’ll understand why I’ve looked like this while outside in recent months:

Winter Hat

In case you’re wondering, here’s what is beneath all of that: Continue reading

Sermon: “So remember who you are . . .”

475162_10150745006395465_1502759656_o-1

St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, Edina, Minnesota
The Reverend Neil Alan Willard, M.Div.
Epiphany V, February 9, 2014

“You are the salt of the earth . . .” (Matthew 5:13)

It’s hard for me to believe that it’s now been more than 20 years since it was my turn to do what most seminarians have to do at some point before they can be ordained in the Episcopal Church. I had to spend one of my summer breaks during seminary working in a hospital, learning about pastoral care. So I chose to do that close to home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, at what was then called Baptist Hospital.

Here’s what happens to countless, innocent seminarians. You make your way to the part of a “Level I Trauma Center” like Baptist Hospital where the chaplains have their offices. And in your mind, it seems reasonable to assume that they’re going to spend a lot of time with you on the front end of things, teaching you all the tricks of the trade, so to speak. Surely there’s going to be a class and a handout with “The Top 10 Things That You Need to Know” about dealing with people in the waiting room or a hospital room or the ER.

Oh, how naive you would be to think that! There is, in fact, a kind of orientation so that you won’t get lost in the maze of the buildings. And they take your picture for an official photo ID. But when you turn that photo ID over to see how bad your head shot turned out, that’s not what you notice. What you notice is that it says “CHAPLAIN” in capital letters under your name and photo. It doesn’t say “CHAPLAIN-IN-TRAINING.” It just says “CHAPLAIN.”

In the blink of an eye, they slap that chaplain’s badge on your lapel, push you out into the hallways of the neurosurgery floor, and tell you to come back in three hours to talk about what that experience felt like for you. . . .

Well, I’ll tell you what it feels like. It feels like you’re either just going to die right there or someone’s going to find out that it’s a lie, that you’re not really a chaplain, that you’re not really qualified for the job.

As most of you know, I love that occasional purveyor of theological truth known as The Onion, a website that offers a satirical view of the news and daily life. Whether they make you laugh or cringe, the headlines merely describe human nature, for better or for worse, as it really is.

Here’s one that appeared a couple of weeks ago: “Report: Today the Day They Find Out You’re a Fraud.” This is a quote from the article that followed:

“Though you’ve somehow gotten this far in life without anyone discovering you’re not what you pretend to be, it’s all about to come crashing down, and not a minute too soon, to be frank,” reads the report, which goes on to note that you don’t deserve anything you have – not your job, not your relationship, not even your parents’ love – and you know it. “You’re incompetent, you’re petty, you’re vain, you’re barely keeping it together beneath that confident exterior you project, and your little charade is just about over.”

“They’re all on to you,” the report continues. “You do understand that, don’t you?”[1]

That satire describes something very real, a phenomenon known as “Imposter Syndrome.” It’s what one commentator has described as “the deep, gnawing suspicion of one’s own fraudulence, particularly pronounced in executives of various stripes,” but something that “represents a fascinating way of looking at the discrepancies between external and internal [identity, something which plagues] all of us,” whether we think of ourselves as leaders or not.[2]

All of that reminds me of a cartoon that shows a bunch of adults walking through the lobby of an office building. They’re probably on their way to work on different floors. And every one of those adults has little circles above their head to indicate that they’re thinking about something. And all of those little circles go to the same huge thought bubble at the top of the page. Every one of them, trying to look so calm and cool with their fancy briefcases and their important papers and their expensive coffee, is thinking the same thing. And what they’re thinking is this – they’re thinking, “All these people really seem to have it together, and I still have no idea what’s going on.”[3]

crowd4-1

That same huge thought bubble might be over all of us in this church right now. It might be about different parts of our lives as individuals. But I’ll bet that there are a lot of people here this morning who are thinking that about their Christian faith. So, in the Sermon on the Mount, when Jesus says, “You are the salt of the earth,” whatever that means, you might be thinking that it doesn’t apply to you, that it only applies to those sitting around you. But a lot of those people are probably thinking the same thing.

When Jesus says, “You are the salt of the earth,” he wants us to be like a bit of seasoning and to bring out the God-flavors of the world around us. Now, as an aside, I can testify that I have tasted divinity on this earth, and I have tasted it not too far down the street from this church. I have tasted it in the butter at Salut, the French bistro at 50th and France. Some of you know what I’m talkin’ about. It is divine because it’s a little extra salty and so good and so delicious.

The late Robert Farrar Capon, an Episcopal priest and theologian of grace, waxes rhapsodically about that kind of experience in his book The Supper of the Lamb:

Butter is . . . well, butter: it glorifies almost everything it touches. Salt is the sovereign perfecter of all flavors. Eggs are, pure and simple, one of the wonders of the world. And if you put them all together, you get not sudden death, but Hollandaise – which in its own way is not one bit less a marvel than the Gothic arch, the computer chip, or a Bach fugue. Food, like all the other triumphs of human nature, is evidence of civilization – of that priestly gift by which we lift the whole world into the exchanges of the Ultimate City which even God himself longs to see it become.[4]

Wow. That kind of beautiful experience is what Jesus wants us to bring into the world, not through fine dining or because we’re so attractive or as a result of “having it all together.” Let’s be honest here. The community of faith that gathers around Jesus doesn’t have it all together. Only Jesus has it all together, picking up the broken pieces of our lives in his embrace and holding everything together in his love. And when we walk out these doors into the world around us, we carry that love with us. And that’s what it means to be the salt of the earth.

9780142001615_p0_v1_s260x420Now if you’re an overachiever and have read this book, Salt: A World History, you know that for most of the history of civilization, salt has been in short supply. It was precious in the same way that you are precious in the eyes of God. Perhaps today Jesus would have said, “You are the white truffles of the earth.” Needless to say, that doesn’t really have quite the same ring to it. But ancient peoples would fight over salt, hoarding it like money.

Salt preserves food and enhances the flavor of what we eat. But salt won’t do either of those things if you leave it in the saltshaker. And you’re sitting in the saltshaker right now. Jesus says that we are to be salt for the earth, not for ourselves. He’s talking about having an outward orientation as a church, as a community of faith, going out into the neighborhoods that surround us and participating in what God is already doing there.

God’s love can’t be hoarded. And here’s the thing, here’s the good news. There’s more of it than you think there is. In the case of non-metaphorical salt, that is literally true. According to this little history book, it was the dawn of modern geology about 100 years ago which revealed that “almost no place on earth is without salt.”[5] Today there’s no need to fight a war over it. Now we throw it like confetti all over our food, our sidewalks, and our roads. Last winter, for example, MnDOT used 304,555 tons of salt to melt snow and ice on highways and interstates throughout the state of Minnesota.[6] That’s a lot of salt.

BgSRAoZIcAAqLW0

But just imagine that as a symbol of God’s love. There’s more of it than there appears to be in this broken world. And you get to help the rest of the world to see that. There’s no test that you’re required to pass. You’re already qualified to do this in the eyes of God.

When Jesus says, “You are the salt of the earth,” he doesn’t check the resumes of those he’s speaking to, whether in the first century or the twenty-first century. You’re already being this salt in your daily life – when you care for an elderly parent, when you check in on a lonely neighbor, when you make lots of mistakes and others see standing in front of them a forgiven person. That doesn’t mean you’re not scared, but you are being salt for others.

That summer when I worked at Baptist Hospital, I survived those first three hours as I made my way down the hall from room to room. And I survived the next three hours and the next and the next. And I had amazing encounters with the children of God, with people who needed healing and love and someone to told their hand. And I realized that I wasn’t an impostor, I wasn’t pretending to be a chaplain when I walked into the lives of those people. I was being what Jesus has declared all of us to be – the salt of the earth.

So remember who you are when you walk out these doors into a hospital room or your child’s bedroom or the corporate boardroom. Jesus says,

“You. . . . You, Danny. . . . You, Jane. . . . You, Ann. . . . You, John. . . . You, Rachel. . . . You are the salt of the earth.”

AMEN

BACK TO POST “Report: Today the Day They Find Out You’re a Fraud,” The Onion, January 31, 2014.

BACK TO POST David Zahl, “If People Only Knew That I Have No Idea What I’m Doing: Understanding Impostor Syndrome,” Mockingbird, December 16, 2009.

BACK TO POST Carolyn Hiler, A Zillion Dollars Comics, August 6, 2013.

BACK TO POST Robert Farrar Capon, The Supper of the Lamb: A Culinary Reflection (New York: Modern Library, 2002) xxvii.

BACK TO POST Mark Kurlansky, Salt: A World History (New York: Penguin, 2002) 12.

BACK TO POST “Snowplow safety facts from Winter 2012-2013,” Winter Work Zone Safety, Minnesota Department of Transportation.

Alzheimer’s Disease and the Journey of Faith

Last Sunday at my church, we began a series on spiritual journeys, hearing from members of our congregation about how they’ve met God in the midst of their lives. Our first speakers were Ken and Mary Margaret Lehmann. You can hear part of their amazing story in this short video from the Collegeville Institute:

Martyrs Topic: “Faith of our fathers, living still . . .”

“Faith of our fathers, living still . . .” are the first words of an old hymn that isn’t sung too frequently these days. The fathers, in this case, are our ancestors in the Christian faith rather than our biological fathers. But that phrase came to mind, with a question mark added at the end of it, when I read this recent article in the New York Times about the passing of religious beliefs from parents to children: “Book Explores Ways Faith Is Kept, or Lost, Over Generations.”

Vern L. Bengtson is a professor at the University of Southern California, where he teaches social work. From 1969 to 2008, he studied 350 families, interviewing them on a regular basis over several generations. His most recent conclusions from that project are related to religious beliefs and are explained in a new book entitled Families and Faith: How Religion Is Passed Down Across Generations, which he wrote with two colleagues. Some of those conclusions, as noted in the article, are common sense. But here’s the part that caught my attention:

Professor Bengtson’s major conclusion is that family bonds matter. Displays of parental piety, like “teaching the right beliefs and practices” and “keeping strictly to the law,” can be for naught if the children don’t feel close to the parents. “Without emotional bonding,” these other factors are “not sufficient for transmission,” he writes.

Professor Bengtson also found that one parent matters more than the other — and it’s Dad. “But what is really interesting,” he writes, “is that, for religious transmission, having a close bond with one’s father matters even more than a close relationship with one’s mother.”

There are some interesting exceptions. Transmission of Judaism, for example, depends more on a close bond with one’s mother than with one’s father — perhaps because Judaism has traditionally held that the faith is inherited from the mother. Among Jews with a close maternal bond, 90 percent considered themselves Jewish, versus only 60 percent of those who weren’t close to their mothers.

In general, however, “fervent faith cannot compensate for a distant dad.” Over and over in interviews, Professor Bengtson said, he found that “a father who is an exemplar, a pillar of the church, but doesn’t provide warmth and affirmation to his kid does not have kids who follow him in his faith.”

Professor Bengtson is himself a living example of this. His father was a minister in the Evangelical Covenant Church. More importantly, both his father and his grandfather exuded the kind of “paternal warmth” that his book describes. But his embrace of their faith didn’t happen immediately. Here’s what happened:

In graduate school and after, Professor Bengtson abandoned his faith. His despairing mother once wrote to him, “Vern, if I have to choose between you and my Jesus, I will choose Jesus.” Recently, however, too late for his mother to know, Professor Bengtson has found his way back to church.

“By golly, I had this religious experience when I was about 67 years old,” said Professor Bengtson, now 72. Easter morning of 2009, he woke up and decided to check out “this Gothic-looking church down on State Street” in Santa Barbara. He entered church a bit late, after the service had started.

“The organ was roaring,” he recalled, “the congregation was singing, the pillars were going up to heaven, the light was sifting down through the stained-glass windows. I was just overwhelmed. I found my way to a pew and started crying. . . . I haven’t been the same since.”

Professor Bengtson now sings in the church choir. His return — albeit to a progressive Episcopal church — has, he says, made him a better scholar. . . .

Parents aren’t just trying to pass on to their children a checklist of beliefs, he said. Better than ever, he grasps “the kind of passion these parents had for wanting their children to achieve the peace and the joy and the hope and the inspiration they had found for themselves.”

That’s what I want my two boys to experience in their own lives, not only during childhood but also as adults. What do you want your children to experience?

Learn more about the St. Stephen’s Martyrs and how to find them here.

The Super Bowl, Cheerios, and Racism

Yesterday, as most Americans know, was Super Bowl Sunday. Many people watch that event because they love NFL football. Others like the food, and the company that comes to their home to enjoy a shared experience. But nearly everyone likes to see the commercials, even though it’s hard to comprehend that a 30-second ad during the Super Bowl cost about $4 million, or $133,000 per second. General Mills – whose headquarters I drive past most days during my commute between home and church – bought one of those Super Bowl spots for this Cheerios ad:

You may remember that the interracial family portrayed in that ad was featured last year in a previous ad, one that generated so many negative comments and racial slurs that General Mills eventually disabled the comments on YouTube:

When that eruption of racist commentary happened, one of my parishioners, Meredith Tutterow, was the Associate Marketing Director for Cheerios and Multigrain Cheerios. An article published in the New York Times last May included remarks by her about the controversy surrounding that ad:

The spot, heartwarming to many, began on national television on Monday and was uploaded to YouTube on Wednesday. But it has caused a furor for the maker of Cheerios, General Mills, because an interracial cast portrays the family.

The advertisement, which features a black father and white mother, has generated vituperative comments online, but General Mills says it stands by the commercial.

The ad will “absolutely not” be withdrawn, Meredith Tutterow, associate marketing director for Cheerios and Multigrain Cheerios at General Mills in Golden Valley, Minn., said Friday.

“There are many kinds of families,” Ms. Tutterow said, “and Cheerios just wants to celebrate them all.”

Seeing those actors return to the small screen to portray the same family during the Super Bowl brought to mind these words from the Book of Common Prayer:

O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us through Jesus your Son: Look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in your good time, all nations and races may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne . . .

Amen to that. Perhaps others will see a glimpse of that harmony in us today.

Sermon: “Were you expecting someone else?”

This is Don Durham. He and I went to high school together in Kernersville, North Carolina. Looking at this photograph, most people will not be surprised to learn that Don rides a Harley-Davidson motorcycle with over 100,000 miles on it. But most people would probably not guess that he founded “Healing Springs Acres,” where he grows food to give away to the poor and the hungry. Don also happens to be a Baptist minister. This is the Rev. Don Durham. Does that surprise you?

Don Durham

I thought about Don after telling a story in my sermon on Sunday about another servant of God who didn’t necessarily look the part, at least in the minds of some people. It’s a sermon about the coming of the Magi to worship the Christ Child.

Here’s what I said: Continue reading

Sermon: Diesel-10 and Worn Edges

One of the Christmas gifts that I received from my wife this year was a copy of Roger Hutchison’s The Painting Table: A Journal of Loss and Joy. Roger and I became friends 17 years ago while serving different churches, each within walking distance to the beach, along the Grand Strand of South Carolina. In addition to his work with children in the Episcopal Church, Roger is a wonderful artist for whom painting is a conversation with God.

Last spring, Roger was invited to help children and parents of Trinity Episcopal Church in Newtown, Connecticut, learn how talk to God in this way through art. Many of those children attended Sandy Hook Elementary School, where a child of their congregation, Ben Wheeler, was killed in a mass shooting on December 14, 2012. In my congregation, that was on the minds of everyone throughout the days leading up to Christmas of last year. Below you can read what I told them.

Here’s what I said: Continue reading

Sermon: Walter Mitty and the Manger

Two days after Christmas, my wife and I had an opportunity in the afternoon to watch a movie without the kids. That was a wonderful gift, and there was no question about the fact that we wanted to see The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.

That’s because I had mentioned it in my Christmas Eve sermon. You can read my words to nearly 1200 people on that magical and snowy night beneath this video, which shows the official trailer for this film that was released on Christmas Day.

Here’s what I said: Continue reading

Sermon: The Longest and Darkest of Nights

Last night marked the beginning of an unwelcome arctic blast that’s still crossing the Canadian border into Minnesota. It will be mostly subzero until the arrival of the New Year. This is a good time to share a few sermons here, beginning with a sermon from earlier in December that mentions the famous 20th-century polar explorer Richard Byrd. In Antarctica, while looking for one thing, he discovered something else, something that we can discover, too, this Christmas Season.

This sermon, by the way, also mentions two things I’ve addressed previously – dreams and the music of the spheres. So be sure to explore those links too.

Here’s what I said: Continue reading

Justin Welby: “All this he did for you . . .”

Last Sunday the text for my sermon was Genesis 32:22-31, a biblical passage that describes Jacob wrestling with God until daybreak at the River Jabbok. He left there not only with a blessing but also with a new name.

I reminded folks that lots of Americans were just as excited as British subjects last summer to hear the name of the new royal baby. And I ended that sermon by noting that the Archbishop of Canterbury was going to baptize Prince George this afternoon and, about all of that, saying:

He is the great-grandson of the reigning monarch of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. But the most important thing we can say about George on that day will be that he is related to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords and bears a new title – beloved child of God. At the end of that day and every day, it’s the only royal lineage and title that really matters not only for him but also for you and me.

And I hope that you’ll remember that as you walk out into the world, where you will be called many things. But none of them, good or bad, will ever be more important than being called a beloved child of God. If you cling to that truth and refuse to let go of it, you will not only be blessed but also be a blessing to all of God’s children.

But the Archbishop of Canterbury himself, in this short video, made that point much better than I did about the meaning of Christian baptism. His final words are the ones that are the most powerful and the ones that will bring tears to the eyes of many parents.  So take a moment to listen to this beautiful reflection.

Sermon: Giving Thanks for a Cat in a Shark Suit

St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, Edina, Minnesota
The Reverend Neil Alan Willard, M.Div.
“Sermon on the Amount,” October 13, 2013

Then one of [the lepers], when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. (Luke 17:15-16)

Back at the beginning of August, an unusual video was posted on YouTube. It was titled “Cat Wearing a Shark Costume Cleans the Kitchen on a Roomba.”

A Roomba, for those of you who don’t know, is a robotic vacuum cleaner that’s been around for a little more than a decade. It’s round and relatively flat, like a frisbee, and just big enough for a cat to sit on and take a ride. The cat in this video is wearing a shark suit and remains completely calm atop the Roomba, which goes back and forth across an ordinary looking kitchen floor. When it reaches a wall, the Roomba bounces back, spins around, and continues its journey. In this case, it does all of that while a cat-in-a-shark-suit spins around too. In the background, a woman is shucking ears of corn at the kitchen sink, paying no attention this odd spectacle that we, the viewers, simply can’t stop watching.

If it sounds ridiculous, that’s because it is. It’s ridiculously funny, and the video went viral. As of this morning, it had been watched on YouTube a total of 5,835,874 times. I’ll admit that the video caught my attention. I’ve watched it more than a few times.

What also caught my attention was an article about it on the Forbes website. The author, Forbes contributer Tim Worstall, is a Fellow at the Adam Smith Institute in London. Continue reading

Sermon: Lament for a Son

Yesterday morning I dropped off my oldest son at kindergarten, walking him to his classroom and entrusting him to the care of his teachers. The same day I spoke at the funeral of a ten-year-old boy, the oldest son of someone else who had once done that very same thing as a parent. His family had asked me to do that as a person of faith, even though the service itself was non-religious. What we had in common was an understanding that our children are gifts and that we have to let them go. It’s not fair when that happens through an untimely death.

Some people will say that I should have talked more about my faith and the God that I believe entered into the muddy waters of our humanity in Jesus. Others will think the opposite, saying that I stepped out in faith too far. If I crossed a sacred boundary, it was because I was invited to do so by parents who not only cared about their first-born child but cared about others who loved him too.

Love, therefore, became the thread that made a connection between all of us. It brought to mind the opening words of a beautiful antiphon that I didn’t quote in my remarks but have contemplated a lot: “Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est,” which means, “Where charity and love are, God is there.” This I believe.

Here’s what I said: Continue reading

Cathedral Bundt Pans and Pro Wrestling: “Wooo!”

Cathedral Bundt CakeThis is a picture of a cake that’s both ecclesiastical and rather tasty. My wife made it with the Nordic Ware Cathedral Bundt Pan. You should take a moment to read her description of that process at the Contessa-Curessa Project: “Perfect Pound Cake.” You can also discover the real connection between this dessert and the City of St. Louis Park, Minnesota, by reading today’s post at Lent Madness about me: “Celebrity Blogger Week: The Rev. Neil Alan Willard.” Lent Madness, a fun way to learn about the saints, will soon return not only to Minnesota but also to every other state of the Union and, in the words of my seminary’s motto, “into the regions beyond.”

Someone else who’s mentioned in that blog post is Ric Flair. It’s shocking to me that so many Americans have never heard of this man who was the most stylish “pro wrestler” of the 70s and 80s. Here’s a sample of what they’ve missed:

Martyrs Topic(s): Parenting and Pursuing Happiness

Needless to say, I’m playing a bit of catch-up here after taking a couple of months off to focus on other things. That did not include, however, a break from the hard work of the St. Stephen’s Martyrs, a men’s group, which refused not to meet over the holidays on St. Stephen’s Day, December 26. These are indeed true martyrs, or witnesses, who are not ashamed to reflect on their faith while drinking beer!

On the first Wednesday of each month, it’s my turn to lead the discussion. So the topic for December 5 arose from a great post on the theologically-oriented Mockingbird blog: “An Unfortunate Letter from a Frustrated Parent: Brooks, Corinthians, and the Failure of Criticism.” At the heart of that post is a letter — an email, actually — from a retired officer in the Royal Navy to his son and two daughters. That message, which you can read in full here, ends with these words: “I am bitterly, bitterly disappointed.” Lots of people love to read about this kind of tough love. Yet others have a different kind of response, an example of which can be seen in David Brook’s “How People Change” in The New York Times.

The topic for last night, January 2, came from another post on the Mockingbird blog: “Debilitating Anxiety and the Great American Search for Happiness.” This one is a British perspective on the American obsession with appearing happy at all times and in all circumstances. Think, for example, about the content of most Facebook timelines and Christmas letters! Whatever one might conclude about that, the notion that joy can’t be achieved as an end in itself seems to be confirmed by the experience of simply being human.

Mockingbird’s own Ethan Richardson put it this way:

. . . we are happier the less we are thinking about ourselves and our relative happiness (or lack thereof). Blessed self-forgetfulness and all that. Of course, to limit this problem to Americans is ultimately a bit silly, as a preoccupation with one’s own well-being seems to be a universal human trait. The volume may be turned up in our little corner of the world–causing a bit more psychic fallout perhaps–but that doesn’t mean we have a monopoly on the issue.

Interestingly enough, Whippman points to the reality of true joy, and that it only ever occurs when expectation and pressure are removed; which means it is often only noticed retrospectively and freely. While the pursuit of happiness is “nail-biting work,” the good fruit of joy (or, as she calls it, “real happiness”) is the by-product of a life bereft of conditionality and comparative “stacking up.” The answer to this kind of stacking up before an immeasurable measure of Happiness? Whippman’s last line says it all: “Might as well stop trying so hard.”

Learn more about the St. Stephen’s Martyrs and how to find them here.

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s New Year Message

Here are the concluding thoughts of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, in his New Year message for 2013:

If you have the good fortune to live in a community where things seem to be working well the chances are that if you slip backstage you’ll find an army of cheerful people making the wheels go round – and don’t forget just what a huge percentage of them come from the churches and other faith groups.

How very good that people like that are there for us, we can say – but as soon as we’ve said that, we should be prompted to ask the tougher question: what can I do to join this silent conspiracy of generous dedication? There’ll be those who have time and skill and strength to offer; there’ll be those who have less of these, but can support in prayer and goodwill.

And as we think about this silent groundswell, perhaps our minds can begin to open up to the deepest secret of all – the trust that the entire universe is held together by the quiet, unfailing generosity of God. What we see and grasp isn’t the whole story – but just occasionally we can get a glimpse. I hope there will be lots of joyful glimpses like that for you in the year ahead.

Every blessing and happiness for the coming year.