Thursday, December 17, 2020
This week, in the northern hemisphere, we are enjoying the last days of deepening darkness before the winter solstice brings the return of the light. As my friend Carol P. Christ writes, while the light is indeed to be celebrated, the dark is not to be feared: at this time of year we would be wise to celebrate the restful, welcoming darkness.
The rebirth of light at the winter solstice is mirrored in Christianity by the birth of love and wisdom symbolised by the cosmic Christ. In earlier times, the return of the sun was one phase in the balanced cycle of birth, death, and regeneration embodied by the Goddess. 
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Thursday, December 3, 2020
One of the things I love most about life in Greece is the way women burn incense to sanctify their homes and holy icons. With this tiny act of sacred offering, along with the lighting of the kandíli or olive-oil lamp, the lady of the house takes on the role of priestess, turning her home into a temple, a place of prayer, as women did in ancient times. Incense sticks are not used here. Chunks of pure frankincense or scented resins are placed on little charcoal disks called karvounákia, in a special burner, a thymiatírio. When money is scarce or shops are far, women burn olive leaves, as they have done in Greece and Cyprus for thousands of years.
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Thursday, December 10, 2020
Last week I wrote about the chalice-shaped incense burner, the thymiatírio, which in Orthodox belief is a symbol for the womb of the Divine Mother.
Today, on a December morning blessed with
life-giving rain, I light frankincense in my clay thymiatírio and sense the strong presence of the Divine Mother, She who will soon give birth to the light of the returning sun and the cosmic Christ. Inside this divine being, I also see the woman Maryam in her ninth month of pregnancy, facing difficult circumstances for the coming birth. Both of these images guide me strongly during this Advent time.
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