I am going to church this morning. And again tonight. And again tomorrow morning. A friend says, “You only have to go once, you know?” I ponder this for a moment and am surprised to realize that I don’t go because I ‘have’ to. I go because I want to.

Because I can’t imagine NOT going. I am peaceful there. In the quiet, in the ritual. “Having to go’ never occurred to me. I very rarely, as those of you who know me know, do what I ‘have’ to do.

When did this happen? A year ago I had no thought of going to church. But then again, this time last year I did not even want to be here at all. What a very long way I have come in a year. Dying to living. I’m living proof that it can be done.

It sure wasn’t pretty though, that fight out of the pit. But somewhere in that battle to regain my footing, I found peace. At the beach, in the birds, in the earth, in the music, at church.

Just live. These are the words that echo through my mind a thousand times a day. Just live. That is what Alex told me in a dream two months after he died.

Several of my friends have lost someone they love this year. And I know that today is going to be so very hard for them. They might even feel what I felt last year, that gaping hole in their chest, that emptiness, that darkness and all engulfing missing, something vital missing. I want to tell them that they can survive it, it will get a little easier.

This is what people told me. I didn’t believe it then. Could not imagine it at all. But it did get a little easier. The empty space was filled in with the just living. You find a way to keep living.

So, I go to church. I am not going to overthink this. Yeah. I know. What? Karen not overthink something? See? I’m moving along, learning. Baby steps. In the mass, I find peace. That is all we need to know.

I pray for you all that the peace and joy of this night surround you always, but especially on this night that we celebrate the birth of Jesus, the living breathing example of peace and love.

And I pray that those of you who are hurting, find a way to take that peace and love and just live. Because the living is AWESOME!

It’s all going to be alright.

Merry Christmas!