Wednesday, December 26, 2007


The third week of Advent....I didn't write that after the Service of Lessons and Carols, my throat felt like fire. I lost my voice completely and was home sick most of the week. Poor timing for shopping, decorating, and sending Christmas cards. I didn't feel up to driving to get stamps, even, until near the end of the week. But it was a good time for resting and reading, and I was just so glad it had held off until after the singing.
Here is a clearer view of the tiny little wreath that I like so much. We had a larger wreath, but last year we left it unattended for just a few minutes, and it suffered damage in the fire that consumed the greenery and part of our tablecloth. Quite a Christmas morning celebration!

Back to the recent present: I did get better, and then Drazen came down with a cold. He was a trooper, though. I don't know if it was love of family, concern for me, or looking forward to the food (or all three)--but he chose to make the drive to Searcy for dinner with some of my family on Christmas Eve.

On the way there we saw thousands of Candian geese, sitting quietly on the flooded fields of Arkansas between Fair Oaks and Augusta. How does the sight of migrating Canadian geese bring tears to my eyes and a lump to my throat? I am not quite sure, but it did, and I thought that might be my favorite Christmas present for the year.

But then there was the full moon. My dad and I had gone for a walk around the Harding campus, to see the Christmas lights. Which were lovely and even in a way enchanting. But then that moon, just over the horizon, still goldish from whatever it is that makes it that way, and huge, huge, and so beautifully round and quiet. That was entrancing. I wish I'd had a camera with me. The memory will have to suffice. We drove home that night under that glorious moon.
After a too-short nap (Drazen went on to bed), I went with a friend to an Orthodox nativity service. An experience I won't forget. This friend didn't tell me until we were on the way there, that they stand for the entire hour and a half, except for about five minutes of the service! I actually appreciate the reverence it implies, but my foot is still hurting from the long time spent in shoes that weren't meant for such an experience.

Christmas Day, we were both exhausted. Drazen from his cold, I from being up late and recovering from my own bout of illness; and both from the interrupted sleep that comes with one or more people blowing their nose throughout the night. I woke up with not a host of heavenly angels singing, but a host of depressing thoughts. I feel awful, I'm exhausted, this day is going to be impossible. Why did we invite someone over for dinner? How am I going to get it done? What if Drazen doesn't like the gift I got for him? etc.

But we got up, I put cinnamon rolls in the oven and coffee on the stove. And Drazen found the channel 3 airing of our Lessons and Carols service, which infused my spirit with joy and refocused me on heavenly hosts, and shortly I was smiling and laughing again. We opened presents, tried our new coffee, enjoyed the morning.

By afternoon, it was a different matter. I was tired. I took a nap while Drazen spent two hours on skype with a long-winded friend in Croatia. I woke from the nap feeling tired, sad, lonely. Wishing for things that I always thought would be a part of Christmas and are not, and may never be. Doing the crazy comparing thing, which always means comparing ourselves to those who have the things we wish we had, rather than comparing ourselves to those who do not even have what we have. I missed Grandmother, and extended family being together, and children being a part of the picture.

Just in time, Drazen got off the phone and we went for a walk. Which clears the mind and invigorates the body, and gave me the energy and good will I needed to come home and do the cooking and cleaning before our guest arrived.

Justin came over. And we celebrated Christmas together, with scripture and prayer and food and life-sharing and dog-petting and laughter. At one point Justin and I somehow got into a laugh that wouldn't end, and we both wound up in pain from it! It gave new meaning to "side-splitting" laughter.

Later, Drazen and I watched the movie First Knight, a gift from my sister's family. By the end of it I was again exhausted, with a headache starting, and having those thoughts again. Why did I want to stay up late watching a movie? Now I won’t be able to sleep. Tomorrow’s going to be awful. Etc.

I had seen the movie before, but this time was struck by a line I didn't remember from before. It seemed appropriate to the day. Guinevere, trying to explain herself and her love to Arthur, says something like, “Feelings come and go like the wind. But my will is what sustains me, what keeps me true to my course, and it is with my will that I love you.”

Christmas Day my feelings came and went like the wind! But the day wasn’t about my feelings, and at the end of the day, body and mind and soul sat at the table with the wreath and the candles and thought once more about Light coming into the world and how blessed we are to have something more hopeful and sustaining that our own feelings and even our own thoughts.

The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. And the Light is real, and full of Grace and Truth. Even when I'm not.
Merry Christmas!

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