the RAVEN FOUNDATION

At Christmastime (and Always) You Belong In Love

“He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him.” John 1:10-11.

When You Feel Like You Don’t Belong

If you’re just not feeling it this Christmas, then this message is especially for you.

It’s a love letter to a hurting humanity, to all who feel as if they do not belong.

For all who feel estranged even surrounded by family, and for all who find themselves alone.

For all tossed about by the storms of upheaval and chaos. For all who tremble with anxiety, who fear an uncertain future.

For all who suffer the dull ache of grief or the sharp sting of loss.

It began as a prayer to the God of this beautiful, broken world, to the God of all beautiful, broken hearts.

And it is still a prayer. For prayer the cry of our souls to pull Love’s presence into the heart of our deepest needs.

But when we are hurting, faith can be so hard to hold onto.  And if you’re struggling to feel God’s presence and prayer just doesn’t resonate with you right now, that’s okay. This is a message of love for you.

When The Holidays Just Amplify the Pain

I write this now, remembering when I was once haunted by a sense of disappointment in myself, so uncomfortable in my skin that I didn’t feel like I belonged anywhere, especially not among the lights and music and festivities and triumphant fun of the holidays.

That Christmas was hard. The joy that surrounded me, that did occasionally penetrate through my self-doubt but couldn’t to be sustained in my aching heart, made me feel more alone than ever, even in the midst of my loved ones.

When you can’t believe in yourself, it’s hard to believe in anything else. And so it took time for me to feel the gentle pressure of Love’s embrace, wrapping around me and healing me from within. That same Love embraces you, even if it’s hard to feel right now.

Your struggles are not the same as mine. But if you feel sorrow or loneliness or hopelessness especially acutely at this time, if pain just won’t take a holiday, I want you to know now what I wish I knew then:

Christmas is not just for the happy, for those secure in material comforts, or for those strong in faith.

Christmas is for the lonely. Christmas is for the heartbroken. Christmas is for the poor. Christmas is for those whose hope is dwindling or depleted.

Because Christmas is about the God who knows the depths of our pain.

Christmas is about the God who didn’t belong, who came to renew this world so that all would belong.

Christmas is for the heartbroken… Christmas is for those whose hope is dwindling or depleted.

When Love Was Pushed Aside From The World Love Made

This is the Christmas story:

Before time began, Love was all in all.

Love danced in partnership with Love’s self, Lover and Beloved and the Love between Them together,

And stars and galaxies and planets were born in Their footprints.

And this world was born through the joyful labor-dance of Love. Mountains and soil and water and sandy red deserts and lush green hills and trees and insects and birds and fish and mammals…

All were born to dance together and relate to each other. All were born as expressions of the ever-creative and creating power of Love.

And we, too, were born in Love’s image.

But humanity did not always recognize the Love in whom we live and move and have our being. Love was pushed aside. Love went unrecognized as people competed and formed identities over and against one another.

Brother took up arms against brother.

Nation rose against nation.

The world and the people in it were trampled, exploited, pushed aside, killed…

All because Love went unrecognized.

“The world did not know him…”

When Love Is Born Into An Unrecognizing World

Love has always been with us. Love has felt every physical and emotional pain we have ever experienced. Love has been pushed aside with us. Love has wept with us. And none of us have always been able to see it.

We cannot truly find our place in a world that pushes Love aside. For our truest place is within Love, which we magnify and multiply through our hearts and actions. Wherever the world has failed to reflect Love, that is where we stumble, unsure of our footing, unable to feel as if we belong.

Love went unrecognized.

And Love became flesh and dwelt among us.

If you’re feeling vulnerable, take comfort:

The message of Love came first to a young girl who had everything to lose by bearing Love into the world, and yet she found the hope to endure all the pain and danger, recognizing her role in bringing about something more wonderful than she could imagine.

Have courage, for though Love calls us out of safety, it calls us into life and all the beauty and wonder that we are born to be.

If you’re feeling out of place, take comfort:

Love was born in a world that said there was no room. Love was born among the animals and the muck and the mess. Love was born among those considered the least: beasts of burden.

Love comes to all, and where there is Love, there is a place for each of us.

If you are feeling unheard or unrecognized, take comfort:

The message of Love’s arrival came first to the most marginalized of people – the shepherds – those who (according to some scholars) could not testify in court. They were the first to bear witness to the birth of Love.

Love hears you. And a world that cannot hear Love needs to hear you, needs to hear all whose voices have been drowned out. Keep speaking up, for that is Love speaking through you and for you. (And Love is calling those of us who have been speaking and have been heard to quiet down and listen.)

And if you’re feeling failure or guilt, anger or sorrow, anxiety or loss…

Love is here. Love is coming to you anew.

The Olive
Branch

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Finding Your Place In Love

Forget the lights and the music and the commercialism if it feels like the world is trying to force festivity upon you. Forget the sense of triumphalism that washes through the atmosphere if it makes you feel smaller.

Love is coming into a world that is still hurting, no matter how we may dress up her wounds.

Love is coming in tiny, weak, vulnerable flesh, to grow with us and share all of our pain.

Love is coming to befriend us, sit with us, walk with us, listen to us.

Love is coming to transform our fears into hopes and our hopes into acts of love that draw us into the endless dance, ever welcoming others in.

If you don’t feel it yet, I hope these words blend with all the other messages that Love is sending to you and gently press on your heart until they become more than words. They are messages we all need to hear sometimes, for we all have times when pain muffles Love’s message, and still Love presses on.

For Love is speaking within and around you, imperfectly through those of us still growing into our humanity and perfectly through the Fully Human One who is coming. Love will be heard.

You are loved.

For Love has borne you in Love’s image, and Love is with You even in your doubt, even in your loneliness. Love knows what it is to not be believed in, to not be welcomed. But Love breaks through the barriers and walls, and Love will break down the barriers around and within you too.

Love believes in you.

Love welcomes you.

And within Love, you belong.