Notes from Jan

Woe be Gone

December 19, 2018

My schedule reminded me “routine colonoscopy in two weeks” until the mail arrived with an invitation to an Advent luncheon and program.

What to do?

Lets just say, I really enjoyed the Advent gathering, drinking Christmas cheer instead of some solution determined to keep me seated in a small room for hours on end.  Something to anticipate in the New Year.

The mail arrives and I can hardly wait to see who’s come to visit. A couple of weeks ago, Rev. Margery Kennelly,Episcopal Chaplain at Harvard, taught our adult Sunday School.  “Letters of Spiritual Encouragement: Recovering the ancient Christian traditions behind our modern Christmas card greetings.”  It did my heart good to learn more of our faith-full heritage.

While I appreciate and use  technology(ex.this blog), there’s something about going to the mailbox and finding a card, letter, thank-you note from someone who gave the gift of time, thought and postage.


I’m old.

For one, I bought myself a Christmas pin and attached it to my coat this year.

I have laments, like the loss of Woolworth’s, Sears, penny candy or penny anything, aprons, handkerchiefs, good manners and a time when Sundays were for church or, at least, not business as usual.

But, during this season of Advent, who dares stay in lamentation mode or Christian’s “slough of despond.” As Marshall Shelley wrote in  an Advent devotional from Denver Seminary,  “Pope Francis warned his church leaders of the dangers of, ‘the sickness of the mournful face’, thinking it represented serious faith and not their fears and insecurities.”

Marshall Shelley continued his letter of encouragement through this  prayer from Sir Thomas More, a Saint(1478-1535):

“Lord, give me a good digestion and also something to digest.  Give me health of body and the good humor necessary to maintain it.  Give me, Lord, a simple soul that is able to make a treasure of all that is good and is not astonished in view of evil but rather always finds the way to put things back in place.  Give me a soul that knows not boredom, grumbling, sighs, laments, and do not permit me to trouble myself with that very cumbersome thing called ‘I.’ Give me, Lord, a sense of good humor.  Grant me the grace to understand a joke, to discover in life a bit of joy, and to make others part of it. Amen.”

Pope Francis prays this every day and said, “It does me much good.”

There are a few in my family who need “grace to understand a joke,” especially mine.

Then again, I need to “make a treasure of all that is good and to discover a bit of joy and make others part of it.”






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  • Reply Wendy Lane December 19, 2018 at 6:29 pm

    Oh what a wonderful prayer!! <3

    • Reply Jan Carlberg December 19, 2018 at 8:21 pm

      It is, indeed, Wendy. Now, I hope to make it more of a daily prayer. If it does the Pope good, it’s sure to nudge me in a better direction.

  • Reply Jeanne Webster December 19, 2018 at 6:34 pm

    Dear Jan
    Ken and wish you a very Merry Christmas,
    We soo enJOY your blog and look forward to each one.
    Our daughter Lindsey (2000) and our son Michael(2002j both
    Gordon grads would sent us tapes (old school) when you would present at chapel. Sometimes
    with your sweet mama ❤️
    We also enJOYed breakfast at your home ,with dear Jud,the morning of graduation 2000.
    Tony Campolo greeted us at the door thinking I was Tipper Gore!! The look on his face whenI introduced ourselves as the Webster’s was priceless He apologized saying he
    Was speaking the Gore’s daughter’s graduation the following week and had a moment of confusion.
    Ha ha I so enJOYed my 15 seconds of fame
    You graciously escorted me to your kitchen because our son had told you that you had his
    “Mom’s dream kitchen!” A sweet memory I’ll never forget.
    Please keep blogging and we do look forward with the JOY they bring❤️
    Merry Christmas Blessigs
    Jeanne and Ken Webster

  • Reply Jan Carlberg December 19, 2018 at 8:26 pm

    What JOY you gave me, dear Gordon parent. Thank you for taking the time, Jeanne, to read this blog and respond with a sack full of encouragement. Wishing you and your family good food to digest, jokes to be told and understood, and much JOY to discover and spread in the coming year.

  • Reply Liz B December 20, 2018 at 11:38 am

    Merry Christmas, Jan. I smiled when I read your blog today. I realized that I share a sense of loss of former days, especially in this season when I remember our worn and dog-eared Sears and Roebuck Christmas catalog. We lived in rural northern Maine where catalog shopping was the primary means of shopping….and now we call it online shopping! Praying for the gentle presence of Jesus will settle deep within this Christmastime for all to receive the true JOY of the world.

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