This morning I dragged myself out of bed again at an unearthly hour because I needed to find some quiet but not just the quiet of sleep. I needed quiet, not just for my ears, but mostly for my heart. Because my mind had become busy again and I didn’t want to enter my day from a place of restlessness. I didn’t want to find myself driven from one end of the day to the other at some frenetic pace and go to bed frustrated that I had missed what was most important about today. Because I miss so much when my mind focuses on the wrong things.
I do love this time of year. I love the excuse to decorate my home, to light scented candles and listen to Christmas carols. I love to plan delicious meals, Christmas cookies and cakes and look forward to savouring all the different Christmas flavours. I love to send cards and good wishes to old friends, to choose and carefully gift wrap presents for my nearest and dearest, and to dream of white Christmases and open fires. I love the opportunity to feast all my senses during this rich season of colours, flavours, and aromas. I love that December is so rich with possibilities. I love that we end the year on such an upbeat note. I look forward to it and I relish it.
There are so MANY words flying around. There are so MANY words claiming our attention, our agreement, and our engagement.
Has anyone else noticed?
I start to feel overwhelmed by them sometimes.
How do I choose?
How do I choose what to listen to, what to ignore, or what to combat?
Don’t you love them? Isn’t there something truly delightful in the whole process of giving and receiving gifts?
I have been given many gifts in my life and though they have varied in size and importance I have valued them. I love the little reminders around my home that someone at sometime thought of me. I value the giver and I value that they have thought of me as they have wrapped a gift intended to bring pleasure and an expression of love. I delight in my gifts. If you have been to my home, you know that knickknacks adorn my shelves and windowsills.Occasionally I de-clutter and put some things away for a while but I cannot bring myself to throw any of them away. There are too many treasured memories attached to them. I still have things on my shelves which I was given as a child and which have become part of the fabric of my home.
November. How does it strike you? What does it evoke for you?
In some ways it is not at all my favourite month, in others it will always be special. I was born in November and while I was growing up, November always meant magical moments of anticipation for me. November was special. So much so that I felt annoyed and even offended with the sentiments in Sara Coleridge’s Months poem because she made November sound so unappealing.
Once upon a time I wasn’t dizzy. Then I lost my balance. Two years ago, long or short, depending on how you look at it, I still had a sense of balance and I could still depend on my body and my brain to give me reliable information about where I stood in relation to the ground. Then, one day, my balance was gone.
I think there are people who go through life fairly self-satisfied, content with who they are and what they do, regretting little or nothing. Sometimes I think it is unfortunate that I do not belong to that group.Sometimes I think it would be nice to live without regrets but on the other hand I tend to agree with Socrates’ statement that the unexamined life is not worth living. And as self-examination tends to result in a deeper awareness of one’s own failings, I suppose that regret is integral to a life worth living. Ignorance may be bliss – at least for the one who remains ignorant – but I don’t want to bulldoze my way through life, careless of my impact on other people.
Recently I grieved my own death.
Before you think that this post is a posthumous visit, or that I am a total narcissist, please let me explain. I was standing in the kitchen with Mia, the same kitchen where I had been standing almost twelve months previously when Dali had received the phone call from the hospital, a call which we were both expecting and dreading, that his mum had just passed away after an intense but all-too-brief battle with cancer. Mia was perhaps remembering the grief and intensity of those days last November, the necessity of saying goodbye to “Stará mama”, the last ever-so-gentle hugs, the last kind words and the last loving looks. Perhaps her young brain was trying to wrap itself around the concept of future days and her own mother’s mortality. It had been an ordinary kind of day
I sometimes lose sight of the fact that I need grace ALL THE TIME.
I need it, not just for the big things but for the little things too , for major and minor irritations and for all the details that make up my everyday life. It is in the small stuff in fact that I sometimes need grace the most because it is the small things, day after day, which can wear me down the most if I let them. I need grace to recognise my own limitations and I need to receive grace for my own shortcomings, and being the mother of four children at various stages of growing up gives me plenty of opportunities for both these things.
How was your week?
Mine has been …well, busy.
I suspect that, like me, many of you have had a busy week too. But today I find myself asking an important question. What did I actually do? I mean, what did I actually achieve? I cooked and baked and cleaned and washed and hung and folded and shopped and sorted. I counselled and corrected and supervised and scolded. I taught and walked and tidied and swept.
But what did I actually do?
God is good.
Sometimes I struggle to really believe that God is good. Oh, I confess it with my mouth and consent to it in my mind but when it comes down to it I find on the heart level a suspicion that God is not as good as I would like Him to be, a doubt that He will indeed work out all things for good in my life. It is easy to rest in God’s goodness when things are going well but when hard times are prolonged, our faith in His unchanging goodness can be sorely tested. “Is God really good?” comes the not-so-subtle whisper when life is hard. Even though we confess it with our lips, do we not all struggle with the thought at times that God is only mostly good, that there are times when He simply isn’t good, at least not towards us?
Almost three years after my first meeting with Dali, I walked down the aisle and, in the sight of God, my family and friends, I gave Dali my solemn vow, my “I do”, for better or for worse.
In the year leading up to our wedding we had seen each other briefly at Christmas, (my first Slovak Christmas and the first Christmas I had ever spent away from home-cabbage soup, fish and poppy-seed covered bread balls seemed like a poor replacement for roast turkey with all the trimmings, but that is another story). Since Christmas our only contact had been letters and an occasional expensive long distance phone call.