Bearings: Navigating Life-as-Ministry
Sharing the Season | December 2018

As we move into the heart of the holiday season, this month’s issue of Bearings explores—and troubles—a quintessential holiday practice: sharing. Darleen Pryds takes her cues from a family of mourning doves on her front porch who share lessons on loss and new life. Paul Blankenship reveals the teachings shared by people living on the streets. In our Commentary section, Ron Culmer reflects on practices of neighborliness as healing gifts. And poet Ellen McGrath Smith brings the poetry of Tracy K. Smith and Li-Young Lee to our Creative Insights section. Join them in this season of waiting and hoping for divine gifts of wonder, joy, and possibility that await us.

From the Editor

Sharing the Season

Gifting a World of Abundant Need

In a season of giving, what does it mean to share our spiritual abundance? How does that spiritual giving inform our engagement with the concrete realities of those in need? These are the questions we set out to explore in the December issue of Bearings with Feature writers Paul Houston Blankenship and Darleen Pryds. For his part, Paul started where his work as... Read more
Featured Article

Real Sharing in a Season of Real Joy

Commercial advertisers would have us believe that the holiday season is just about cheerful fun. Family dinners are uncomplicated and there’s an abundance of food that everyone around the table likes to eat. Naturally, for people of faith, there’s a spiritual significance to the holy days of late autumn and early winter. Although spiritual meanings differ across... Read more
Featured Article

Love Multiplies

3 Confessions from the Streets

Mary’s forehead is dried blood. “He did this to me,” she says. John Jacob is uneasy. He’s not on his game. It’s getting late and he hasn’t sold a paper for an hour. “I bet that bitch told the police,” he says. He is speaking to me but looking at her. I try not to look at her. I look instead at the ground. In my mind, however, I can’t look away. He pauses. A woman... Read more
Commentary

Quenching the Fire with Neighborliness

This fall, California has been on fire. Wide swaths of the state have been burned to the ground. Homes have been destroyed. Schools and hospitals shut down. This, after a summer of drought, a spring of hurricanes—each natural disaster piling upon the next. There is an political and social firestorm as well. We live in a country where deep divisions are being... Read more
Creative Insights

Love Calling in the Wilderness

New Works from Poets Li-Young Lee and Tracy K. Smith

“And love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love cannot be killed or swept aside.” This line, from the sonnet Lin-Manuel Miranda shared as part of his award acceptance speech at the 2016 Tonys, reminded a world grieving over the brutal massacre at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida, of the one human truth worth fighting to hold onto. It is... Read more
From Our Archives

Going Through the Holiday Motions

For the past few weeks, I have been going through the motions. I wrestle with Advent texts, write “to do” lists, and mail packages to faraway beloveds. This marks the first Christmas that two of our three “olders” are so far away from home that they won’t be with us, one on the opposite coast and the other studying abroad in Japan. This shift in the family system... Read more
From Our Archives

Advent’s Invitation to Incarnational Imagination

“The poet knows that the human experience of the sacred is awash in the particularity of things, the sensuous surface and ambient array of details that make possible any sense of dwelling in the presence of mystery.” – Belden Lane It’s Christmas morning, 1981, and I’m seven years old. I wake up early and fly down the two flights of stairs from my bedroom on the... Read more