While stores everywhere are already putting up Christmas decorations, we invite you to schedule a break from all of the seasonal shopping and partying in order to center down and focus quietly on the true meaning of Christmas. We will be offering an Advent day of recollection at the monastery on Saturday, December 14, with limited overnight accomodations for those seeking a longer retreat. If you would like to join us, please reply to this post, or phone the monastery at 607-655-2366.

We wish you all a Happy Hallowe’en and a blessed All Saints’ Day, but before it slips our mind, we’d like to share a (true) Christmas story told to us this morning by a friend in Windsor :

Miranda (not her real name), has worked for years as a receptionist in hotels or medical venues, where she often has to be on duty on major holidays. In fact, because Miranda and her husband were unable to have children, she usually offers to work on Thanksgiving and Christmas, so that her colleagues with young children can be with their families. Early one Christmas morning, she was working at a hotel located next to an interstate highway, feeling sad, not only because it was Christmas and she had to work, but also because it was her beloved dog’s birthday, and the dog was going to have to be euthanized. The dog had been a wonderful therapy dog who had had a special rapport with the developmentally disabled.

The television monitor near the hotel’s reception desk was playing a movie called “The Nativity,” about the birth of Jesus, and whoever was in charge of such matters uncharacteristically didn’t seem to mind that the hotel employees were watching it. Just then, a harried young couple came in carrying a tiny baby, swaddled in blankets against the cold. A sign in the lobby announced that the restrooms in the lobby were for hotel guests only; everyone else had to go to the gas station. The couple asked if they could please use the hotel restroom to change the baby, because the facilities in the gas station were filthy. Miranda said, “Of course!” and then told them to go help themselves to coffee and a snack in the adjoining dining room, also reserved for hotel patrons. While all this was going on, the television monitor was showing Mary, Joseph and the Baby being turned away at the inn in Bethlehem. Miranda, fighting to keep her professional composure at the reception desk, said inwardly, “Okay, God. I get it!”