Women's Christmas 2018: The Path We Make by Dreaming

Wise Women Also CameImage: Wise Women Also Came © Jan Richardson

Friends, it is the time of year when I get to wish you a Merry Women's Christmas and share a gift that I've created for you in celebration of the day!

You might already know that in some parts of the world, Epiphany (January 6, which brings the Christmas season to a close) is also celebrated as Women's Christmas. Originating in Ireland, where it is known as Nollaig na mBan, Women's Christmas began as a day when the women, who often carried the domestic responsibilities all year, took Epiphany as an occasion to enjoy a bit of respite and celebrate together at the end of the holidays.

Whether your domestic duties are many or few, Women’s Christmas is a good time to pause and take a break from whatever has kept you busy in the past weeks or months. As the Christmas season ends, this is an occasion both to celebrate with friends and also to spend time in reflection before diving into the responsibilities of this new year.

It has become a tradition for me to create a retreat that you can use for Women's Christmas—or any time you're in need of a space of respite and regathering. This year's retreat is titled "The Path We Make by Dreaming." As I continue to find my way in the wake of my husband's death, I have been giving a lot of thought to how dreaming happens in my life. I'm talking about dreaming in its broadest sense: the dreams that come by night, the dreams that come by day, the imagining and envisioning we engage in as we work to find and create our path. This year's retreat offers an invitation for you to reflect on how dreaming happens in your own life, in both the darkness and the day.

The retreat is very flexible, easily adaptable to your own purposes. You can do the retreat anytime you wish, by yourself or with friends near or far. It includes an introduction with some thoughts about how you might use these reflections.

Clicking the link below will take you to a page on this Sanctuary of Women site where you can download the retreat as a PDF file. There is no cost; this is my Women's Christmas gift to you! If you wish, you can make a donation in support of the retreat; contributions will be shared with the A21 Campaign (a21.org), which is devoted to ending human trafficking and providing sanctuary, healing, and hope for those rescued from slavery.

Download the 2018 Women's Christmas Retreat

(If you don't see the 2018 retreat when you click the link, just refresh your browser so that you're seeing the most recent version of the Women's Christmas page, and the new retreat should appear.)

You are welcome to make copies of the retreat to share with friends. I would be delighted for you to offer this gift to others by sharing this blog post; you can use any of the social media icons at the bottom of this post or simply forward the link to others.

This year's retreat opens with a new blessing I've written for you, which you can find below. As we celebrate the day and enter into the year ahead, I pray that you will find wondrous dreams to live into. Merry Women's Christmas!

The Map Our Dreaming Makes
A Blessing for Women’s Christmas

I cannot tell you
how far I have come
to give this blessing
to you.

No map
for the distance crossed,
no measure
for the terrain behind,
no calendar
for marking
the passage of time
while I traveled a road
I knew not.

For now, let us say
I had to come by
a different star
than the one
I first followed,
had to navigate by
another dream
than the one
I loved the most.

But I tell you
that even here,
the hope

that each star belongs
to a light
more ancient still,

and each dream
part of the way
that lies beneath
this way,

and each day
drawing us closer
to the day
when every path
will converge

and we will see the map
our dreaming made,
luminous in every line
that finally led us

—Jan Richardson

[The image Wise Women Also Came is © Jan Richardson from Night Visions. To use this image or order an art print, please visit this page at Jan Richardson Images.]

30 Responses to "Women's Christmas 2018: The Path We Make by Dreaming"

  1. Cheryl Rose, HM says:

    thanks, Jan—-You are such a gift to us!! I use your blessings with my directees , especially in the sacred seasons of Advent and Lent……SrCheryl Rose, HM

  2. Dotty Anderson says:

    What a treasure you are Jan Richardson! Thank you for this gift to begin the new year. Keep on shining!

  3. Deb N says:

    Dear One,
    …the map our dreaming made… brilliant!
    I'm so grateful, as always, for this gift.
    Thank you!

  4. Ruth J says:

    Jan, Thank you so much. I have followed my dream paths for many long years and they occasionally lead me into places of darkness for a time. But, I always come out into the light. I learn just as much when I spend time on the dark path as I do on the path of light. Your poetry and insights always bring me light.


  5. Elizabeth Macdonald says:

    Deeply poignant and powerful words … arriving at the very moment I need and can best appreciate them … I look forward to experiencing and sharing this retreat heading into 2018 … thank you Jan

  6. Bonnie Klatt says:

    Thank you, Jan, for this gift of Love – the retreat and the heartfelt blessing. I think I will share it with John as we do our evening (post-dinner) devotions. ❤️

  7. Sarah says:

    In the crucible of your own experience, you have allowed light to continue to be lit for so many known and unknown to you. You have given yourself to the path of great illumination for all to see and to believe in the hope in the darkness of the light that is always present. You have extended your light in ways not imagined and given it permission to be lit in ways that are yet to be realized.

  8. Emily says:

    What fabulous work; thank you so much!

  9. Janet says:

    An aquaintenance I met at a day retreat months ago just forwarded this to me. Both the image and the poem have stirred a deep knowing. I am grateful for your creativity and gift shared freely.
    It has been hard to identify with Mary, yet when I view the image of "wise women" bringing gifts, ah!
    Yes! This I know. I am part of the story.

  10. Brenda says:

    Thank you Jan for this lovely offering. You have provided a path that has offered hope in the darkness and inspiration in the light- I always look forward to your posts- They are a bright shining spot in my life.

    This map reminds me of how Jeremiah 6:16 invites us to "Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the Ancient Paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you shall find rest for your souls.

    Your path brings peace into my space-
    and so- I will reflect upon what you have held out to us to take- Thank you!

  11. Mary Fleming says:

    Thank you Jan. I have been waiting for your gift of words of illumination. You are a light of love and giving in dark times even as your own heart may be heavy to carry. Bless you.

  12. Sue Peterson says:

    Dear Jan,
    Thank you so much for this gift of prayer and meditation. I am forwarding your e-mail to a list of friends who I know will benefit from the wisdom you share.
    It is a wonderful way to begin this new year!! You have been a blessing to me over the years and I am so grateful for your presence in my life.

    Blessings in abundance, Sue.

  13. Jan,
    Thank you this blessing and this gift. I am marking 18 months since the death of my husband and I know what it is to “return by another road.”
    With gratitude,

    • Laurie, I am so sorry about the death of your husband and that you know such grief in your life–and what it is to "return by another road." My heart goes out to you, along with loads of blessings and with gratitude for your words. I pray that many graces will attend you on your path. Deep peace to you as this year unfolds.

  14. Sandra Brown says:

    Beautiful! Inspiring!

  15. Ellen Reilly says:

    Jan, thanks so much for your gift of love! You are a dream come true for me and many!
    I wish you trusting, dreams on your Journey as you feel supported, nurtured, cared for and loved.
    I am sharing your retreat with many friends on the journey! Thank you for being a Blessing
    for us. Ellen

  16. Jan, Thank you for this retreat. I've read only as far as Blessing of Comfort; Blessing of Challenge but you have completely nailed my dreams. I've been praying for comfort all while dealing with big challenges, both to health and ministry. Last year, I celebrated Women's Little Christmas (Nollaig na mBan) with friends. We are gathering again this year (albeit a small group) in celebration of friendship, sisterhood, and shared dreams. I love that your retreat springs from this ancient Irishwomen's tradition. Thank you so much for creating a framework for dreaming anew. Your poignant poem calls me to release the old dreams that didn't work out and be open to new dreams in new directions.

  17. Marsha Heizer says:

    Jan, I am so grateful for your books and your poetry, which I have used and enjoyed and which have helped me to grow over the past few years. This year, I used your poem for Longest Night in the Longest Night service at my church. I think it added a wonderful blessing to those who attended and were in a vulnerable place. Thank you for your ongoing work!

  18. Sue Peterson says:

    Hi Jan,

    I don't know if you are aware of The Lifeboat Project. It's founder is a friend of mine from Maitland Presbyterian Church, Jill Bolander Cohen. Jill@thelifeboatproject.org .(www.thelifeboatproject.org) They have a small house, given to them by Central Florida Presbytery, and used to provide support services for women they are rescuing from trafficking in the Orlando area. Their goal is to minister to the whole person and bring healing. They are also recruiting volunteers to provide safe haven for women who are escaping from trafficking.
    I am going to send an e-mail to both of you, just so you are aware of one another, if you haven't yet met. You might be interested in knowing more about what they are doing locally.

    Blessings, Sue

  19. I really love your reflection and appreciate your retreat offering.
    Epiphany blessings, Tanya

  20. Mary Walker says:

    I am leading a retreat using your guide for a group of women who are part of a group called Seekers. I appreciate this gift and I am looking forward to sharing it tomorrow. Thanks so much Jan! Mary

  21. Eva Stanley says:

    Thank you so much for your Women's retreats…..a gift ….

  22. Donna Swauger says:

    Dearest Jan,
    I have followed you for years and have loved every single "Women's Christmas". As I begin 2018 I'm experiencing the death of a marraige after 39 years. When seeking God the words came "Begin the journey of becoming". It begins in darkness and grief, with no map. I am especially thankful for your Women's Christmas this year! God kept you in my heart when Gary died. I feel like God has used your journey to help me find the more Ancient Starlight, for that I am forever grateful. May the hope and healing continue.
    Blessings Always,
    Donna S.

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