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    When I was a kid (and still a little bit today) balloons made me sad. I bet many of you wonder how these fun, colorful, gravity defying orbs can cause sadness. It didn’t start out that way. When I was really young I liked balloons. I always asked my parents for them whenever I spotted a vendor, but I quickly learned that balloon ownership never ends well.

       I have a fairly heightened startle response, so I was constantly haunted by the fear of the balloon popping. If I dared to take the balloon outdoors, I knew it could escape at any minute. The worst part of the outdoor escape was that I had, for a fleeting millisecond, a chance to rescue it. And if, as often happened, it escaped my grasp, I knew that my parents, who loomed 2-3 feet above me, were the last chance to rescue my balloon. And more times than not, because the balloon usually rose more quickly than any brain can recognize, they failed. It was an early reminder that even though my parents were supposed to protect me, sometimes things are out of our control.

        Best case scenario for balloon ownership was keeping it safely trapped in my room with the light and ceiling fan off. It could rest in the corner of the ceiling for a day or two. That is until its helium inevitably leaked out leaving behind a sad, deflated shell of its former glory.

       I don’t know that my parents knew about fourteenth century Christian mystic, Julian of Norwich, but if they did, they surely would have comforted me with her famous theological statement: “It was necessary that there should be sin; but all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”

     I don’t know if I can intellectually agree with her statement, but it lives in my heart. It has comforted me when I reflect on so many of the tragedies and traumas of life. When I think about the fact that every marriage will either end in death or divorce, I think “All shall be well.” When I think about my own health, or the fact that I am only alive for a humblingly short time, I think “All shall be well.”

         On Sundays when I see so many people that I know are struggling with the death of loved ones, with addiction, with a diagnosis, with self-doubt, with financial hardships, with so many of the adversities of life, “All shall be well” sings over and over in my head.

      A mentor of mine used to say “It’s not dark because it’s Christmas. It’s Christmas because it’s dark.” We have Christmas in December, because we know the days are cold and the light is scarce. While you work through or live with whatever is going on in your life, please know that you are not doing so alone. Please know that you can find comfort in our sanctuary, or talk to one of your ministers. I hope that you will find comfort in the same idea that has comforted me:  “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”