Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Greatest Christmas Gift

I have not been out of my house for five days.

I had a twinge of guilt that I should go to church this morning. Since I usually work at church every Sunday morning, having an opportunity to worship elsewhere with no responsibilities really is very appealing. But that twinge quickly vanished, mercifully.

The Christmas Blizzard of '09 (I can hear it 100 years ago referred to as "ought nine") postponed our holiday plans with our family for a week. It was disappointing, but what a gift it turned out to be. All of a sudden, five days of unplanned time off stretched before me and it has been wonderful.

The past year has been non-stop. Two part-time jobs, my enrollment this fall in a licensed lay ministry class, staying centered with my kids, and all the other things that happen in life have kept me going at a break-neck speed. I know what time and what day it is by which workplace I am in at the moment. Evenings spent working on religious studies after kids have gone to bed.

I spent the day in sweats yesterday. Between working on my presentation for my class in early January, I played three full football games on the XBox with John. It was my idea that he and I set up a playoff tournament. We're supposed to have played the championship today, but we've only played five games and there are 16 teams. I am pretty proud of myself that I am holding my own three games to two. Considering I frequently have to look down at my controller to know what button to push, I'm doing well. The controller is simply an extension of John's hand and he instinctively knows all the bells and whistles. I'm holding my head high.

Stretching out the holiday into the next week is wonderful. It's the way it is supposed to be. I would imagine that a poll of most Americans would show that they believe the 12 days of Christmas begin on December 12 rather than December 25. From now until the Wise Men come on January 6, it will still be Christmas. I'll probably take down the tree next weekend, but there's still more celebration to come....

And tomorrow, life will return to an abbreviated state of normal. The kids are still off school, so I am the only one I need to get out the door in the morning. I'm using some comp time at church, since the Sunday School is also on break, so that will continue the feeling of vacation. Then on Wednesday after lunch, we'll pack up as we had planned to do last week, and head for Grandpa and Grandma's for Christmas and New Year's. I know I will enjoy it more now that I've had a week of Sabbath time.

Slow down, pay attention, enjoy this changes by the moment.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Time for me

I took an hour this week as the sun began to set and went for a walk. The hour I spent alone just walking felt luxurious...

It was a cloudy afternoon. In fact, there was a bit of fog and as I walked along the edge of town, it was hard to tell where the snow ended and the sky began. The homes began to light up, warm and cozy. There was the scent of wood smoke in the air from a fireplace. Christmas lights outlined the architecture of houses, encircled trees, and twinkled. The Brits call them fairy lights, which I think is perfect.

As much as I love seeing holiday lights in the dark of an evening, I find that I enjoy them even more as the dusk is starting to settle in...that image that Marilynne Robinson writes about in "Gilead." The image of light within light.

Fog muffles sound almost as much as snowfall does. The only sound out there was the crunch of the snow under my boots. A quiet snowy late afternoon in December. Something so simple, but so profound.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


I think we survived the Big Snow. There's a ridiculous amount of snow out there, more in one snow event than I have ever seen, something like 14 1/2 inches of snow. Totally ridiculous.

I could not get out of my house yesterday until the neighbor boy came with a shovel to clear the snow drift away from the screen door that sweeps out. Avery is my hero.

Without a snowblower, there was no hope of getting my 4-wheel drive vehicle out of my driveway. I could hardly get to the vehicle itself, let alone drive it out. So, I decided to walk. It's not that far. Like Sarah Palin, "You can see GRMC from my house."

I am embarrassed to admit that I don't walk more often. And I ate my humble pie with a wind chill of -25 at 7:30 this morning.

But it wasn't so bad at noon walking to my other job at the church downtown. In fact it was kind of nice...just made one bad judgment call walking too far down the block to realize that I should have turned around. The last lot on the block had not yet been out to clear their sidewalk. Like a lemming, I followed the tracks of the last ignoramus who also did not turn around, but rather slogged through snow past my knees. I'm sure it was hilarious to watch me make my way to the street.

Walking to the hospital and walking downtown are quick trips. It almost took me more time to get the 16 items of clothing on than it does to actually make the trip. Walking at the end of the day from the church downtown to my house takes closer to 30 minutes. It was colder than it was at lunch and I walked into the wind this time.

But it was a good walk. It gave me time to myself to think. The longer I walked, the longer I realized that there are people who are in this kind of weather everyday. Some by choice, some for work, and some who have no choice. As I walked up my block, there were many blessings to count - my wonderful neighbor was blowing the snow off my driveway, my house would be warm inside, my family ready to share their day with me...and that I won't have to walk tomorrow. Unless, I choose to...