Following Jesus to Bethlehem - Day 30

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Following Jesus to Bethlehem

More Advent wonder and Christmas joy 
Dreams and Angels

Matthew 2:13-14, 19-22
God, you created the imagination and send angels into dreams,
Help us shepherd our imaginations so your Spirit can stir them
to always guide us in the best possible direction.

Day  30:

Jesus, in my desire to know, love and follow you, let me not downplay the importance of the only person who has known, loved, and followed you from the moment of your conception.  Help me conclude these 30 days with more openness to the one created by God to be your mother. 

For today’s final 5 Gold Coins of time, I offer a story about something that happened to me almost 30 years ago:

Weeks after a family tragedy resulted in the sudden loss of my grandmother, I was experiencing symptoms of PTSD and feeling anxious that family members might get the cancer of revenge by harboring hatred for the one responsible. One night I made my way into a dark chapel, found a seat and waited for my eyes to adjust to the sanctuary candle in front. I was praying with anxiety for family members when, in my imagination, a woman’s voice I thought could be the Virgin Mary said,

“Michael, you are so anxious for the conversion of your family members. But you cannot change another person’s heart; only your own.
If you try to manipulate another person’s heart, it’s as if you tried to paint the leaves of autumn and the results would be just as messy.
If you look at the colors of Fall, it’s as if one leaf changing gives a signal to the leaves around it so you will see color sweeping through a grove of trees. Michael, you be the first leaf to change and the fragrance of your conversion will inspire conversion in those around you.”

It made so much sense I felt I should write it down remember but I didn’t have to. I have never have forgotten those words because just then someone came in and turned on the chapel lights. The message I thought I had imagined took on more meaning as looking around, I realized that out of every seat in the chapel, I had managed to make my way, in the dark, to the only seat where someone had left a leaf on the railing, and it was bright red/orange. I kept the leaf in my prayer book until it disintegrated. But I still have it in my heart and I hope you do, too.

Jesus, help me be the first leaf to change.