Sauntering with St. Nick and Thich Nhat Hanh

Readings for the Feast Day of St. Nicholas

This reflection was shared at Sacred Saunter Outdoor Eucharist on Saturday December 5 2020 at Freshwater in Eureka. 

Very little is known about the life of Nicholas, except that he suffered torture and imprisonment during the persecution under the Emperor Diocletian. It is possible that he was one of the bishops attending the First Ecumenical Council of Nicaea in 325. He was honored as a saint in Constantinople in the sixth century by the Emperor Justinian. His veneration became immensely popular in the West after the supposed removal of his body to Bari, Italy, in the late eleventh century. In England almost 400 churches were dedicated to him.

Nicholas is famed as the traditional patron of seafarers and sailors, and, more especially, of children. As a bearer of gifts to children, his name was brought to America by the Dutch colonists in New York, from whom he is popularly known as Santa Claus, which makes today’s Saunter a “Sacred Saunter with Sinterklaus.”  

You can read more about St. Nick in Mother Lesley’s December Chronicle article, where she talks about the legend of St. Nick placing treats in children’s shoes and socks overnight (which is where we get the tradition of stocking gifts). Some churches invite people (especially children) to take off their shoes and leave them in the foyer before Sunday worship on St. Nicholas day in order to find them later filled with treats after worship. We’re not going to do that today, but I do invite us to appreciate the gifts that are already in our shoes: our feet, which allow us to walk gently upon this good earth. Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh says, “People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child—our own two eyes. All is a miracle.”* So on that note, in the spirit of “Thich” and Nick, let us pray:

Collect for the Feast Day of Nicholas of Myra, c. 342

Grant, Almighty God, that your church may be so inspired by the example of your servant Nicholas of Myra, that it may never cease to work for the welfare of children, the safety of sailors, the relief of the poor, and the help of those tossed by tempests of doubt or grief; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

A Christmas Card received by Fr. Daniel from parishioners of Christ Church Eureka

* The Feast of St. Nick is only a few days before Bodhi day, a major Buddhist holiday that commemorates the Buddha’s enlightenment under the Bodhi tree

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