Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

It is that time when my heartfelt wish for you is that the Christmas/Epiphany Season will be one filled with the choicest of God's graces. Blessings that will lead to an ever deepening understanding of who you are and who you have chosen to be, in the universal plan of God. May the conviction that you are the continuation of the Mystery of the Incarnation, lead you to a life filled with the Advent gifts of Peace, Joy and Love.

Retirement continues and I am learning to enjoy it more and more. It is tough work, but that kind of "tough work" I am very willing to take on. I had another long trip this summer. The highlight was the 28 days I was privileged to spend at Dolly's cabin. Just before vacation began, I had to be part of a very sad and difficult goodbye to Dolly. It was a whole different feeling being at the cabin this year. I have now been able to spend an astounding 75 days in yellowstone over the last three years. These days are awe-full and wonder-full. I have about 1,000 photos to process from my trip. The vast majority are from Yellowstone.

I was hiking on the Howard Easton trail all by my lonesome. The thought came to me this really could be bear territory. With that, from a very close proximity there was the rustle of branches. When I looked in the direction of the noise, I saw a black bear taking off at great speed. I was later told a black bear can hit between 35-40 miles an hour. I am so glad he took off in the opposite direction from whwere I was intending to go. I now have a deeper respect for that animal. It was so exhilarating to be able to witness such speed. T?he next morning I was lucky to see a huge grizzly. He was about a quarter of a mile away. I have him/her in my camera. I have had the priviliege of seeing 10 bears in the wild. Five blacks and five grizzlies. I also had a very challenging episode at 8,000 feet, ;lus with driving rain, hailstones, heavy wind, thunder and lightening. I was able to get two blogs out of that encounter with Mother Nature. You can read about that in the blog. Some of you have read of that adventure, so I will not bore you.

Then it was brought home to me, Joe you are getting old. I began to be in real pain from my arthritis. Also, a spot on my face began to hurt as well. That spot has caused a lot of trouble over these many years. The end result was I had a shorter vacation. I was glad to get back to the warmth of Arizona. Since I ahve returned the arthritic pain has gotten go much better. I recently had surgery on the troublesome spot. It was cancerous, so it was a good move to return early. It took 21 stitches to close the wound. I am looking more and more like a Raiders fan. (They are looking pretty good this year.) Life is continuing and I am still helping out wherever there is a need.

I came across the following on the internet. I have used it on weekends, and I am thinking it would be a great gift for you, as individuals, as couples, as families, as you conintue your journey to your God, and with your God. It is called "the Advent Virus
, and has been penned by that well known author, Anonymous. My prayer for you is that you will be infected and affected by this virus and the effects last with you long after the AdventChristmas/Epiphany season has passed into memory. The following are some of the signs and symptoms of this wonder-full virus to be infected with and infected by.

An unmistakable ability to enjoy each moment.
A loss of interest in judging others.
A loss of interest in interpreting the actions of others.
A loss of interest in conflict.
A loss of ability to worry. (This is a very serious symptom.)
Frequent, overwhelming episodes of gratitude.
Contented feelings, connectedness with others and nature.
Frequent attacks of smiling.
An increasing tendency to let things happen, rather than make them happen.
A tendency to think and act spontaneously rather than on fear based on past experience.
An increased susceptibility to the love extended by others
as well as the uncontrollable urge to extend it.

There is that wish expressed in song, would that every day be Christmas Day. Well let us all join in a great conspiracy to nourish the above virus. It will be then that the non-believers will be led to the belief. Yes, God did come and true to His promise, He is still with us. yes, He is as He said, Immanuel.

The Blessings of The Christ Child be on your and yours,
Fr. Joe (aka Papa J.)