It’s raining. A rare and beautiful thing in southern California. The last hours of November are closing in on us as our late afternoons are swallowed up in darkness. I find myself yearning for a soft blanket, a cup of tea and a good book. Autumn rustled up old memories needing to be penned in ink before the slippery slide into winter and the Christmas season. I give Autumn the opportunity to linger a few more days before brushing aside its warm colors to make room for winter and Christmas decorations.
As the light burns out of another month I sit and sift through the meaningful moments Autumn handed to me. With the mind’s eye, like clicking through the story reel of a View Master, I look at the highlights one by one: the first Spiritual Formation retreat in Mundelein, seeing classmates for the first time in 42 years, Ohio during harvest, the new red tin roof on grandpa and grandma’s home (now my cousin’s), opportunities to walk in the woods, a road trip to Arizona and all the words spoken, snow, a husband waiting at the airport upon my return.
There have been stories pieced together like a patchwork quilt. “Boro” mending done by the Japanese is a beautiful representation of how tattered pieces of others’ lives can be stitched together, bringing support and strength to places worn thin from ruminating over them alone. It wasn’t something we could see or hold in our hands, words mending a story, the gentle repair of asking and receiving.
Today a rough version of a centerpiece owns the dining room table, books stacked to represent a tree. Bromeliad (Spanish moss) collected from my yard encircles the books like a wreath. Air Plants will be tucked into the gray-green moss. I study the display to consider what may be missing. This takes place in preparation for the first Christmas event. I hold tightly to my calendar, not willing to add one more thing claiming to be necessary to the Advent season.
This full week between Thanksgiving and Advent is a rare gift. Easing into Christmas is counter-culture; there’s been a Christmas aisle in many stores since mid-summer. Each year I make adjustments to how I approach Christmas. Approaching it slowly appeals to me. Christmas calls to me this year from the quiet, to listen. The light penetrates the darkened corners with hope and deliverance. Arms open wide to maintain balance as I cross the thin line between the humanistic “should” of the season and the sentimental sweetness to reach for and accept an invitation to wait. It is in the anticipation of more, something I cannot see, that frees me.