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Tonight my spouse recklessly left me in charge of weekly announcements at church. I meant to take the pink sparkly Santa hat to punch things up a bit.  Lucky for everyone I overlooked it as I went out the door this afternoon.

The last couple of days, I’ve been pondering inspiration in my heart (in honor of Mary who was in-spirited by God in the most profound of ways). I find myself trying to shift my thinking from “I must, I must, I must” to “I want, I love, I hope.” This shift requires paying attention to what inspires – that which puts spirit and life into life, rather than draining life from life.

So tonight I kicked off those weekly announcements by asking those around the dinner tables: “What is inspiring you lately?”

I heard some beautiful short stories of inspiration. Here are a few highlights. Some were shared with the group. Others I just saw, heard or overhead amid the evening’s gathering.

  • “I think all the humans are beautiful” – Rand
  • My friend who is dying of brain cancer yet joyful and fully present – Linda Ray
  • The Magnificat – Phil
  • Talk of family at work – Martha Jo
  • Inmates on diversionary work treating police horses with gentleness – Paul
  • Last meals for dying friends – Frenchie
  • Shoes, dresses and shawls handmade in Cuba – Nuibes
  • Karaoke with kids and singing James Brown – David
  • A new banner of hands from our kids to the kids in our partner church in Cuba – Julie, Amy and Sam
  • Mary, mother of Jesus inspiring untold numbers of people – Cara
  • A soldier welcomed home by his community – Jim
  • Sleeping late and reading good books – Mia

Here are a few things on my own list of inspirations tonight:

  • Clear open spaces
  • People who write, play and sing music
  • Squirrels scavenging November’s pumpkins and corn for feasting in backyard trees
  • Explorer, Felicity Aston, braving the elements and her own solitude to reach the South Pole
  • “The New Possibility” by John Fahey (Guitar Christmas Album)
  • Lights in every window
  • Cinnamon-Applesauce Ornaments
  • Micro-lending with Kiva (my nieces and nephews will soon be inspired, too!)
  • Holiday cards and greetings
  • Advent worship  . . . how we sing, pray, proclaim and slowly find ourselves becoming a people of God.

What is inspiring you lately?