Monday, November 28, 2011

Behind Each Light, the Reason

Advent has only begun, and already Christmas decorations surround us.  In the Church, it's time for purple and pink.  We watch quietly, our spirits hushed, as light dawns slowly with the softness of sunrise.

It is quite a different story in the red and green clamor of the world.

I once spoke about this to a friend.  So much hubbub, and so soon!  Carols blaring, shoppers rushing... and already so many lights.

My friend looked at me with a wisdom born (I suspect) of having lived 25 years longer than I. "Did you ever think," he asked gently, "that every one of those lights is because Jesus came to us?"

Well, yeah, I said.  "But not everyone putting lights on their houses is doing it specifically to honor Jesus."  I was being very logical.  "Some may not even believe in Him." 

"Whether they believe in Him or not," said my friend, "they would not be putting up lights right now if Jesus had not come to the world."  There would be no Christmas, no decorations, no special songs, no shoppers and gifters, no strings of lights on trees and houses - if Jesus had not come.

My friend went on to say that he prayed when he saw Christmas lights.  He thanked Jesus for coming to us.  I'm sure he seldom forgot this practice, for he was a man of prayer.  This friend has now gone Home to God; he needs no more reminders.  I, meanwhile, think every Christmas of his simple wisdom.  I think of it with every display I see.. "This would not be here if Jesus had not come."  The decorations, the cards, the lights - all trumpet out the news that Something Really Important happened on this earth over 2000 years ago.

O come O come, Emmanuel, for the world is dark and in need of you.  O come, Emmanuel, and flood us with Your Light.   

(thanks to Linda M for the photo... and thank you to RG for the lesson of the lights)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

what happens next...

The trees are now bare.  We feel like burrowing down into blankets and resting by a fireplace.  After all, the whole earth has fallen asleep.  Nights are long, and one morning we awaken to a covering of white on ground and trees, and on that day even the dingiest parts of a city seem somehow touched with beauty.  We look one night into ice covered branches under moonlight or streetlight and the whole world has gone magic!  The ground sparkles and we think of jewels...
(thanks to L Maran for the use of her "Snowy Pumpkin" photo)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

fresh bread

I feel a change coming on for these letters.  Not a major one, but maybe a return to the original idea.  I’m feeling drawn away from breadbox “excavations” and more toward FRESH letters, written today.  Written to YOU. 

A bit like fresh baked bread?  One likes to hope so.  Half baked?  Oh, you can count on it.  But maybe that’s part of the adventure of blogging.  I find out what I’m thinking as I write it.  On my other blog (, I have at least a sense of where things are going.  I like doing that blog, but I enjoy this one too. I like being surprised to find myself talking about nature, and letters, and "four dwarf colds." I would like to write of winter, and autumn, and wind….

Autumn came in fast this year, just as I’d settled in to summer.  I sat outside to enjoy July fireworks and three hours later (slight exaggeration, but it felt that way) there was a sudden freshness in the wind.  Now the air is tinged with woodsmoke, leaves crunch underfoot, and nights are long and deep and brisk.  Candles against a darkened window seem somehow cozy and necessary, and my oldest grandchild checks our supply of hot chocolate.  I don’t know why I’m surprised that the trees are all bare. 

Next Thursday is Thanksgiving, with Advent just after.  It's a time for writing cards, and updates, and letters.  It's a time to sit inside (when possible) and write of the season's treasures.  I once heard that writing is a “kind of double living.” During this time of holy anticipation, I would like to doubly live.

(photo © Nancy Shuman)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

I sorry

Some breadbox finds are uncovered at the moment I need them.  Like this one, written by me several years ago.  I rediscovered it just as I was realizing I’ve been much too complacent about gifts God has given me: 

    “A few days ago I was putting a bowl of soup on my two year old granddaughter's high chair tray and she (having decided that she wanted nothing to eat) yelled ‘NO!!’  She slammed the bowl off onto the floor.  Then I knelt and proceeded to silently clean up the mess as she sat there in silence.  It took me several trips up and down to get more towels.  I worked matter-of-factly.  She sat very, very STILL.  She tried giving a little giggle, and I did not respond or look up.  Then she said, very meekly, ‘I sorry.’  I stood up and kissed her swiftly on the forehead and said ‘I forgive you.’  She watched me very soberly as I got her down, and we went on about our evening as always and all was well. 
    I keep thinking of that very sweet ‘I sorry,’ and it touches my heart.”

As I read this, I can almost imagine my heavenly Father saying, when I come to Him in repentance:  “I forgive you.  I have heard your ‘I sorry.’  And it touches My Heart.”

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

fighting fit and full of beans

I went on another breadbox dig and discovered something.  That is:  adventures in communicating bring smiles just when I need them.

Dear Leena, 
   You said Minnie was ‘fighting fit,’ and I’m afraid this is an expression I do not know.  Oh dear.  Does this mean she’s not well? - Nancy

Dear Nancy,
   I am sorry I did not allow for the fact that you might not know what ‘fighting fit’ means.  It means very well and ‘full of beans.’ Full of beans does not mean that one has devoured a can of Baked Beans for dinner, but it means that one is ‘on top of the world,’ which doesn’t mean one is sitting on the North Pole, but means that one feels as if one is ‘sparking on all fours,’ which doesn’t mean that one is a dog, a kangaroo, a squirrel or a chipmunk, but that one finds there are not enough hours in the day to achieve all one wants to achieve, so one becomes so frustrated that she goes in search of a toy to play with and discovers a yo-yo which is a thing on a string that one has to learn to ‘kinda bounce.’ Kinda bounce is a bit like ‘kinda dumb,’ which is what a favourite husband (namely yours) says when a car turns into his path and visiting Aussies gasp with ‘American fright.’ American fright is what Leena looks like when she gets out of bed every morning while visiting friends in the USA.
    I had better go and slam up a sandwich for lunch - Leena