Monthly Archives: December 2008

A few of my favorite Christmas things…

Snowdrops on puppies,

img_00022

And book stacks on Christmas

photo-157

Ball gowns from Scrooge scenes

n738210711_1758635_1135

And homecoming brothers,

p1040156

Shepherd’s meals, Mom’s bread, and siblings who sing,

img_0453

These are a few of my favorite things.

Jack Quinn’s for dinner,

n42904337_31011063_9553

And meals all by candles,

img_0030

Stockings by dawnlight,

photo-138

And Broadmoor jaunt after,

6a00e54f7ea81f8833010536962c32970b-800wi

Herb bread with cheeses, and Christmas Eve feasts,

img_0460

These are a few of my favorite things.

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under Musings

Merry Christmas!

photo-1442

(and yes, someday I will get a camera instead of using the dinky one on my laptop, but hey, it works!)

HAIL King! hail King! blessed is He! blessed is He!
Hail King! hail King! blessed is He! blessed is He!
Hail King! hail King! blessed is He, the King of whom we sing,
All hail! let there be joy!

This night is the eve of the great Nativity,
Born is the Son of Mary the Virgin,
The soles of His feet have reached the earth,

The Son of glory down from on high,
Heaven and earth glowed to Him,
All hail! let there be joy!

The peace of earth to Him, the joy of heaven to Him,

Behold His feet have reached the world;
The homage of a King be His, the welcome of a Lamb be His,
King all victorious, Lamb all glorious,
Earth and ocean illumed to Him,
All hail! let there be joy!

The mountains glowed to Him, the plains glowed to Him,
The voice of the waves with the song of the strand,
Announcing to us that Christ is born,
Son of the King of kings from the land of salvation;

Shone the sun on the mountains high to Him,
All hail! let there be joy!

Shone to Him the earth and sphere together,
God the Lord has opened a Door;
Son of Mary Virgin, hasten Thou to help me,
Thou Christ of hope, Thou Door of joy,
Golden Sun of hill and mountain,
All hail! let there be joy!

-Carmina Gadelica

2 Comments

Filed under Contemplations

Expecting good

Midnight made my black snake of a highway home the other night look inky and sleek as I drove north toward my mountain. The night sky was like a clear alpine pool, cradling that faint luminosity that comes from still water- every star diamond sharp, every point of light like a slash in the dark. A half moon wavered somewhere nearby, casting a faint halo over the foothills so that my eyes were drawn north by their march to the very last slope before the pass. And there was another star. A star burning on the side of the mountain itself, not above it. It was the Palmer Lake Star, a friend that makes a visit for just the Christmas season every year when the little mountain town illumines the foothill size star set amidst the leafless scrub oaks. My eyes kindled up to see it, I almost laughed, and felt for an instant like the little girl that I was when I first saw it ten years ago. The world seemed abruptly enchanted and I felt delightfully childlike. I was surprised by the swift, unthinking happiness of that little gift of a star, of the black, buoyant night, of the myriad small celebrations that comprise the season of Christmas. It felt good to be so easily delighted.

I’ve been thinking about that ever since. It was such an easy, happy moment. It helped me to decide that I’d like to be delighted as a habit of being, childlike in my enjoyment of the world. I’ve found though, that one of the things that makes children childlike is that they expect goodness. They reckon on a certain openhandedness in the universe, they inexplicably expect magnanimity to drop on their little heads. It’s not as if they know where it will come from or who will provide it, but children have this essential hope in their hearts that something good is coming. They haven’t yet unlearned the skill of expectancy- to live delightedly is for them a possession of that illusive ability to live as if a miracle were lurking round the corner.

I am decidedly not like that. Life trains me to just the opposite. It drills me to a muscle-tensed, nerve-wired crouch that assumes some pain or grief is seconds away from pouncing. If I’m not ready for it, then I’ll be crushed when it hits, so I live, often without being aware, in a posture of defense. Not only do I NOT expect good, I actively expect bad. My knowledge of the world and even of the nature of human relationships is that they will be hard. It’s been that way since the fall. I think of Adam and Eve, consider how they coveted knowledge of good and evil – but really, they already had knowledge of everything good. They had pure, unhindered fellowship with God, there was no good thing withheld from them. The only knowledge they could gain was a knowing of evil, of suffering, of pain. By choosing to know that instead of God’s heart, they set the stage for their descendants to live that knowledge out, to expect evil, to assume that life is hard, and God far away. My knowledge of brokenness taints and often poisons my knowledge of good, leaving me with a heart unable to assume that goodness is the ultimate force, that love and holiness are the final realities.

When Jesus said that to enter the kingdom of heaven we had to become as children, I think a huge part of what he meant was that we have to relinquish our expectation of evil, our knowledge of how bad we are, how broken the world is, and how deeply we don’t deserve God’s grace. Become a child, and choose to believe that God wants to give you every treasure and every grace in the world. Become a child and learn to live again in an assumption that the ultimate power in the world is unspeakably good, and fun, and lovely. Become a child and learn to expect blessing, help in trouble, grace in sin, strength in weakness, life in death, and mountain stars on tired nights. Expect good again. Expect love to meet you at every corner.

A difficult task indeed because every second of life in a fallen world is crafted to make you think differently. But perhaps the great work of our hearts, the great changing and recreating that takes our substance of sin and disappointment and weakness and creates a people of laughing, loving, delighted souls. This is who I want to be before God, this is the person I desire to become: His child.

These thoughts have been such a gift to me this season, as I have begun to look at life with eyes perhaps a little clearer. I suppose, like the wise men, I had a star to prick my heart to questing life. I wish the same for you. May you find a similar delight this Christmas season, a song, a sight, a person, to prick you awake to the delightedness of life, to the possibility of living in an open-handed expectation of good. May your heart be revived to hope in every possible delight.

Merry Christmas!

8 Comments

Filed under Contemplations

Happy Christmas Sabbath

The threefold terror of love; a fallen flare,
Through the hollow of an ear,
Wings beating around the room,
The terror of all terrors that I bore,
The Heavens in my womb.

Had I not found content among the shows,
Every common woman knows,
Chimney corner, garden walk,
Or rocky cistern where we tread the clothes,
And gather all the talk?

What is this flesh I purchased with my pains,
This fallen star my milk sustains,
This love that makes my heart’s blood stop,
Or strikes a sudden chill into my bones,
And bids my hair stand up?

-William Butler Yeats

426px-amormaterno

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Happy Christmas Sabbath

Tomorrow shall be my dancing day:
I would my true love did so chance
To see the legend of my play,
To call my true love to my dance:

Sing O my love, O my love, my love, my love;
This have I done for my true love.

Then was I born of a virgin pure,
Of her I took fleshly substance,
Thus was I knit to man’s nature,
to call my true love to my dance:

In a manger laid and wrapped I was,
So very poor, this was my chance,
Betwixt an ox and a silly poor as,
To call my true love to my dance:

Then afterward baptized I was;
The Holy Ghost on me did glance,
My Father’s voice heard from above,
To call my true love to my dance.

Sing O my love, O my love, my love, my love,
This have I done for my true love.

-anon

pierre-auguste_renoir_146

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Gentle rain

The quality of mercy is not strained,
It falleth as the gentle rain from heaven, upon the place beneath,
It is twice blessed…
(Shakespeare)

That eerie stillness of a house invaded by midnight has taken the cold air round me as I sit in this full-moon lit silence. I’m tired as all get out but my brain is just about as tightly wound as my ringlet curls (courtesy of my being in a Victorian era play), so I thought I’d say hello to you instead of crashing into bed just yet. I was in my eighth straight performance tonight of the musical Scrooge: The Carol With An Attitude – I’m having the time of my life. I’m a townsperson and caroler and also have the distinction of being a “Fezziwig” dancer, which means I get to dress up in a golden ball gown sort of thing and prance about stage as I have dreamed of doing since I was twelve and first saw the old Pride and Prejudice. I haven’t been on stage for a musical in over ten years, but I’m loving this so much that my fellow caroler regularly challenges “writer or actress now?” You never know.

Speaking of writing, thank you for your lovely, encouraging, rejoicing-along-with-me comments on the finish of my book. You’re such a lovely group! I’m glad to have time to think of other writing projects and just whimsy again – which hopefully will find its way here more regularly. One of the first sets of posts I intend to create in January is a postcard tour of the England trip. I decided to put it off until then because first, I think it would be lovely to have a bit of travel spice to spruce up the starkness of January’s chill normalcy. Second, because to be honest, I can’t find the memory card with my pictures on it and need to retrieve them from my mom’s computer. And third, because I kinda want to write about my Christmas thoughts during Christmas.

I get contemplative this time of year. Can’t help it. Candles and choral music and daily advent devotions do that to me. But I have an especial sense of wonderment glinting in my eyes and catching my soul this year, forcing me to write. I feel even younger than I usually do this Christmas and it’s because, well, I’m happy. A simple thing, I know. It’s as if some formerly dead bolted door of freedom has keeled open in the past two months, freeing me from some very old griefs and letting me wander into fresh realms. I have some abrupt new graces in my life;  downright captivating new friends, a college acceptance (more on that later if I decide to pursue it), writing possibilities, and even a redeemed confidence in my self. I’ve traipsed through the last few weeks with this sense of life burgeoning around me, I am full of thankfulness, I walk with a sense of possibility, as if the very molecules of air around me were expanding to contain my joy.

And yet, at the back of all this happiness, I regularly spot a streaking shadow of fear. He’s there in the background, a darting sprite that haunts my joy, familiar to me as my own face. I wake up in the mornings with this sense of excitement but then a catch that starts clicking locks again on that door in my heart as I wonder “will the joy last”? What if today ends the good streak? What if all these people that I’m learning to love fade out of my life as swiftly as they appeared? What if God wants me to suffer again? And the air around me contracts, limits itself to the confined expectations I hold regarding God and how nice he wants to be to me. I had one of those mornings yesterday.

But I got up, brewed my vanilla tea, lit my three red candles, and opened my advent devotional, God With Us. Flipped to the page of the day and found the Scripture reference. Obediently opened my Bible to Isaiah 35 and read this:

The wilderness and the desert will be glad, and the Arabah will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus it will blossom profusely and rejoice with rejoicing and shout of joy… Encourage the exhausted and strengthen the feeble, say to those with anxious heart, “take courage, fear not, behold your God will come with vengeane, the recompense of God will come, but he will save you.” Then the eyes of the blind will be opened and the ears of the deaf will be unstopped. Then the lame will leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute will shout for joy, for waters will break forth in the wilderness… the scorched land will become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water.. a highway will be there, a roadway and it will be called the Highway of Holiness… The redeemed will walk there, and the ransomed of the Lord will return and come with joyful shouting to Zion. With everlasting joy upon their heads, they will find gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.

Listen to that, listen to the cascading, rushing, flooding song of joy that pulses in those words – God has come and with him every possible good. He has come to heal and renew, to set dances to spinning and laughter to trilling, desert hearts and places to burgeon with springtime color. How could I read those words and not let me heart expand back to its joy? I began looking back at the other verse references throughout Isaiah and the Gospels and what I found all at once, what my heart remembered, is that every Christmas passage in the Bible adds its voice to this mighty crescendo of joy, this shouted proclamation that against all odds, expectations, and just deserts, God is coming to redeem us and recreate the world in a dazzlement of peace and beauty and celebration. By his grace, I am tasting just a smidge of its goodness in my life at this time.

But the only possible way to respond to that, to honor this unfettered love is to continue to expect good. To drive out that demon of fear and rejoice in who God proclaims himself to be, what he delights to give me. This Christmas, the first thought on my mind is that God is profoundly gracious, and second, that the only way I can honor such lavish generosity is by choosing to live in the belief that his grace will greet me at every corner. To live with hands cupped, face tilted skyward as if Shakespeare’s gentle rain of mercy were my portion. To exist in a state of mind that is so thoroughly convinced of God’s unstinting generosity and miraculous kindness that my heart daily expects to discover some new treasure. That’s not to say that I don’t know very well indeed that I will find struggle, grief, loneliness again. It’s more of a way of orienting myself to this life of mine, choosing to recognize what is the ultimate truth of Christmas: God is incredibly good. God is unspeakably loving.

I find though, that as I believe this, my life begins to reflect it. I recognize grace in places entirely unexpected. It makes a little girl of me again- I’m getting back my child’s heart. But more on that soon. For now, I wish you a Christmas goodnight from the wee sma’s of a windy, moonlit house. Catch that joy my friends. Grab it by the handfuls, let your soul rediscover the abundant goodness of God in this beautiful season. A very sleepy goodnight to you all.

6 Comments

Filed under Contemplations

Hallelujah!

It’s done!

The book is done! All 63,000 words of it. Oh my. Lord. Be. Praised! I don’t think I can articulate, or even grasp at this point, how good this feels. I’m singin’ the Hallelujah Chorus in my heart. Tonight when I whirl about on stage with a friend in the celebration scene at the end of our play, I’ll be dancing for real.

Merry Christmas friends!

537px-vermeer_a_lady_writing

12 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized