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I spoke with Joan Chittister this week. She’s been thinking and writing about Christmas, the prism through which economic crisis is coming home uncomfortably to many of us right now. It is a wonderful, eloquent 15 minutes of her energetic wisdom — highly recommended listening. The gold, frankincense, and myrrh of the kingly biblical gift-givers, she’s learned, are not displays of wealth but of blessings of character — generosity, serenity, and spirit.

Such states of being are counterintuitive, perhaps, at this moment in time. But perhaps they are precisely the qualities that can help us emerge with our humanity intact and enriched. I wish them for myself, and for all of us, in this season.

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I love the notion that these biblical gifts are not displays of wealth, but rather blessings of character. This reminds me of the fairytale, Sleeping Beauty. When the fairies are invited to Baby Aurora's party to extend blessings. Their blessings, too, were gifts of character. There were twelve fairies in attendance, but the evil fairy interupted after Fairy #11 to cast a death spell on the baby girl. Then, the Lilac Fairy (#12) was able to amend the curse to suggest a deep sleep rather than death. The European, especially the Russian, tradition takes these fairytales very seriously in the development of children's character. Maybe we should examine these gifts in light of the life that the baby in the manger came to live and to think about gift giving to children at this time of year in a whole new way.

Gifts, talents, blessings of character are all about ethics. According to my introspection with the Christian tradition, the connotation of the biblical gifts from the three wise men to the little Jesus was just that: human ethical values. I understand the exuberant gifts for Emmanuel as a different kind of worship using our talents and human resources to express our faith.

How to endure the new born creature with the human qualities even though knowing he was God on earth according to the Scriptures? We should treasure up this reading and ponder it in our hearts as the mother of the baby did.

Regardless of our belief, ethics leads to God.

Thanks Krista for your sensitive interview with Sr. Joan. I have read nearly every book she's published and she stretches and humbles me. I appreciated her question asking what are we filling the emptyness with? My choice is to fill the time I put aside each day with silence; contemplative walking, writing hiku, reading something of a spiritual nature and/or simply being still in the silence. The stillness and silence has stretched and humbled me too.
Wishing you, your staff, your readers and listeners and the entire planet a wonder filled New Year.

Silence is the highest communication.

Sister Joan, J.C.,...... as I lovingly refer to her even thought I've never met the woman , is a continued favorite of mine. I could listen to her common and uncommon sense like the gospel according to Siter Joan.

She has a way of putting things that is indelibel into one's heart, mind and soul.

As for the little drummer boy type of gift that the three wise men gave J.C, we all have talents. Some things are not things at all. They're gifts.

Joan, I heard you speak at a Church Women United national conference in Louisville KY and was inspired. Shortly afterwards I founded the Freeborn County Wellness Workshop Fund in Albert Lea MN. I am looking for a speaker for the Spring of 2009. Could you contact me about theme possibilities and fees? Sara Aeikens

Please contact me. I'd love to have you come to Albert Lea, MN to present a workshop.

Sister Joan, You blessed me at CWU national conference in Louisville KY. Shortly afterwards, inspired, I founded a Wellness Workshop Fund here in Albert Lea, MN. I'd like to invite you to speak here- please connect with me.

Speaking of gifts...the gift of this good woman, Sister Joan, is one I am very grateful for. This year I had the opportunity to meet her at a book signing. I am grateful that she shares her gifts-- fresh and refreshing spiritual insight, a warm generous way of being with all kinds of people. She is gold, frankensence and myrrh for all of us.

Thank you for the insightful comments on the financial crises.

I saw her speak at a seminar in 2004. She is an amazing spirtual woman.

I am grateful for the gift of Joan's loving, and sharing nature. Her words are a great comfort and inspiration to all of us. Stability is what my spirt needed to hear and ponder at this very moment. Thanks again.