Sunday, December 30, 2012

a flowering faith

Have you ever seen anything sweeter? Bless the pre-school teacher who helped one of our toddlers make this flower pot creche, my favorite Christmas decoration ever. What courage it must have taken for Mary and Joseph to bundle up their tiny child and leave that manger, humble and jumbled as it was, to face the uncertainty ahead. I remember being reluctant to leave the peace and security of the hospital maternity floor after giving birth, in no hurry to re-engage with the world outside our blessed threesome. But life beckons and we must respond. Each and every day. Thank heaven there are stars that light the way.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

unto us

It's been 19 years that we've lived on Croydon Road and this is the first time neighbors Don and Erwin have set up this precious little straw manger scene in their yard. With the simple white star hung on a magnolia branch above, it blends in so naturally that you could drive by without even noticing. For all of December I have been wondering if a baby would appear in the crib on the 25th. But when I checked on Christmas Day: empty. Of course it was. Because it is up to us to fill that manger with the living Christ. To honor the only gift that ever mattered and make the message come alive all over again. Day in, day out, forever and ever. Unto us a child is born.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

story hour

What a cool yule get-together my friend Amanda attended at her neighbor's house. "Be there at 8:30 am," the invitation said, "and a reading aloud of Truman Capote's A Christmas Memory will begin promptly at 9." What joy to attend story time as a grown-up. To sit in a comfy chair with a treat and just listen to this bittersweet, beautifully-written tale being read aloud. Such an antidote to the holiday milieu. Amanda said it took about 45 minutes and everyone was crying by the end, but that it was a lovely experience. Simple, magical. A tradition I would love to borrow and make my own.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

the opposite of devastation

In a time of destruction, create something. - Maxine Hong Kingston

If you've ever been blindsided by tragedy, you know the feeling of waking up in the morning and, for a split second, forgetting that it happened. But quickly the awful awareness dawns on you and you realize that you must get up and live in this new reality. I think most of America is probably experiencing this today, numb with shock and grief over the tragedy in Connecticut. It was sometime after 9/11 that I read the quote above which sadly, because of the frequency, has become my default way to navigate forward in times of great devastation. By some strange alchemy, there truly is comfort in getting out the pen (the paint, the knitting needles, the rolling pin, the garden tools) and just creating. It doesn't change reality, but it is something real and tangible that affirms rather than negates life. And on some sad days, that's enough.   

Thursday, December 6, 2012

refresher course

Did you realize that peppermint has magical qualities? It's been used since ancient times to soothe headaches and upset stomachs, even adding pep to steps. But what I'm talking about is its uncanny ability to whoosh you back in time:  to Santa's lap, to the candy wreath your aunt made every year with Starlight mints, styrofoam and a glue gun, to third grade and the chunky candy cane the teacher handed out to everyone on the last day before Christmas vacation. Peppermint packs a memory punch. No wonder we love it so much.

Monday, December 3, 2012

lessons & carols

What a gift it was to be in All Saints Chapel at the University of the South on the first night of December for the service of Lessons and Carols. Mysterious, holy, peaceful, sacred. Everything Advent is meant to be.