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Samaritan Center of Puget Sound

This Season May be the "Most Wonderful Time of the Year"
for Some, But . . .  

By March Gunderson, M.Div., M.Ed., Licensed Mental Health Provider on Samaritan Staff (click here to see March's Bio)

for many others it is not.  In fact it can be a very sad season when guided by much of the culture’s messages. But if one is a person of faith, it can change things.

I grew up with much snow, many white Christmas’s and a great deal of enjoyment in Santa Claus and his reindeer.  One Christmas I convinced my sister that she had a horse in the backyard from Santa.  I still feel bad about it, as that was not true and it was one of my sister’s deepest wishes.  As an adult she got what she wanted, but as a child did not!  It was not so great a Christmas for her.

We had Christmas cookies, prime rib, Yorkshire pudding, homemade fruitcake,  a visiting grandmother, carols,  a real tree, presents, and a cresh (manager) set.  I moved the shepherds the lambs and the donkey around.  The angels appeared and disappeared. Mary and Joseph were always by baby Jesus, but the Wisemen were all over the place with their camels. I had fun at Christmas, spoiled, really.  Often the moon shone bright on the new fallen snow and I could see this as I played.

Fast forward to my time as a young adult.  I was married and widowed in 4 years time. That Chirstmas without my husband....was filled with soul searching.  I was young and so was he, although at the time I did not seem young to myself, only bewildered.  I slept on the couch by the fireplace and smelled the pine of our tree.  The cresh set was still there but my family was not all present. Tragedies happen and Christmas still comes. There are those who have died in a timely order and they
are missed.  But there are also those who die too early.  Who am I questions arise and questions about what do I believe?

Jesus arrived in instability - in a questionable home, questionable political order, not in a palace or home, but in a stable.  In the midst of disorder there was courage ( Mary and Joseph), there was curiosity and perseverance (wisemen), there was loyalty and peace (animals), there was wonder and hope (shepherds), there was a mysterious presence (angels), and there was love everywhere?

Loss is experienced by many people.  We can’t get through this life without some loss.  There are times of of being lost in hurt, but as a person of faith I can say that somehow on that first Christmas of trying to make sense of tragedy, of loss,  of brokenness . . . it bottomed out not in happiness, but a deep joy.  We are not alone.  We are loved despite the darkness of not knowing.  Joy to you all.

March Gunderson

PS.  There have been many Christmas’s since then


Blue Christmas / Longest Night Services

Blue Christmas or Longest Night Services allows a holy time and space to honor our sense of loss and grief and to remember especially those who carry grief and loss this season.

Many congregations offer Blue Christmas/Longest Night Services. Here are a few:

Sunday, December 14 at 4 p.m. at Episcopal Church of the Holy Cross, 11526 162nd Ave. NE, Redmond. Blue Christmas Eucharist. Learn more here.

Thursday, December 18 at 7 p.m. in Thomsen Chapel, Saint Mark's Episcopal Cathedral, 1245 10th Ave. E., Seattle. Blue Christmas Service. Learn more here.

Friday, December 19 at 7 p.m. at Our Redeemer's Lutheran Church, 2400 NW 85th St., Seattle. Blue Christmas Service. Learn more here.

Sunday, December 21 at 5 p.m. in the Chapel at University Congregational UCC, 4515 16th Ave. NE, Seattle. Longest Night Worship Service. Learn more here.

Sunday, December 21 at 5 p.m. at St. Luke's Lutheran, 3030 Bellevue Way, Bellevue. Blue Christmas Service. Learn more here.

Sunday, December 21 at 7 p.m. at Trinity Lutheran, 6215 196th St. SW, Lynnwood. The Longest Night Service. Learn more here.

Sunday, December 21 at 7 .m. at Holy Spirit Lutheran, 10021 NE 124th St., Kirkland. Longest Night Service. Learn more here.

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Samaritan's Counseling Services

restoring hope . . . reconciling relationships . . . transforming lives

We provide high quality, faith-integrative, affordable counseling for individuals, couples and families in 18 locations in Seattle, Bellevue and the Eastside, South King County, Pierce and Kitsap Counties. Each of our therapists has a master's or doctoral degree. They represent a variety of mental health disciplines and are licensed by the State of Washington. All Samaritan therapists identify themselves as Christian.

Samaritan welcomes people of all faiths, backgrounds and lifestyles. We believe that healing occurs on multiple levels--mind, body, spirit and soul--and are always willing to consider with our clients the spiritual as well as psychological aspects of healing and growth. We seek to make our services as affordable as possible. We accept a number of insurance plans and, when the income of our clients is limited, we offer fee assistance to the extent our resources allow.

In addition to counseling, we offer mediation services, consultation and education. This includes professional education for therapists, consultation with clergy and congregations, and workshops, seminars and classes for church congregations and community organizations. We first opened our doors in 1960 as Presbyterian Counseling Service. Our accreditation is through the Samaritan Institute which was established in 1972 and oversees more than 80 professional counseling centers in the U.S. and Tokyo, Japan.

View Samaritan's Non-Discrimination Policy Statement as a PDF 

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