On Christmas day, Nora and I rode in the back seat of our car to church, watching for trees. She said the leaves were all gone away and I agreed. I said they would come back in the Spring and be here for her birthday. This is an often repeated story recently as she widens her 2-year-old world to pay attention to things that go away. I thought of this the last few days in our early morning fog. Most mornings, I can see beyond our fence and across the lake to a house that is being built there. I see duck families and herons on the water. But the fog here obscures all but the most pronounced and closest objects. So it is with these days approaching year’s end. I know what recent days have looked like, but the new year coming holds no clear vision for me. I am called to trust, to practice discernment, to watch for markers that remind me I have been and will be guided.
“Spiritual discernment asks us to pay attention…on many levels: to sensus fidelium ( the collective ene of the faithful), to read widely and deeply the best ancient and contemporary thinking, to pray, to attend to the prick of conscience, to watch, to wait, to listen.”
~from “Passing Angels: The Arts of Spiritual Discernment” by Wendy M. Wright in Weavings, November 1995
My first Advent post this year pictured the paperwhite bulbs Nora planted on the day her baby brother was born, November 26, 2016. My, how fast they have grown!
Today, almost 4 weeks later, Nora holds her growing leaves close and says she loves them. Their blooms should be ready to grace our Christmas dinner table!
She loves her baby brother even more! Oliver has many adoring arms to reach for him. He has grown too, a much more amazing miracle than the paperwhites. It has been fun to watch growth and blooming. Tending the blooms and the baby has given particular grace and meaning to these days of Advent, to my reflections of another baby and the way He changed the world.
Advent is neither just a period on the church calendar nor my personal one. Advent has become an important preparation time, a time to reflect on my path, entering into the darkness of unknowing, opening to new possibility and radical availability. Light coming into darkness.
What keeps the wild hope of Christmas alive year after year… is the haunting dream that the child who was born that day may yet be born again even in us and our own snowbound, snow-blind longing for him. ~ Frederich Buechner, from Secrets in the Dark
A cold dark day in winter, when spring’s arrival seems to be an eternity in coming, is a good time to force bulbs indoors. Paperwhite bulbs, green and growing, hearken toward the light and warmth of spring to come. A week ago, our 2 year old granddaughter and I placed marbles in this dish and added water, then nestled dry, brown bulbs on top. I watched her little hands as she worked on our project. Today, we can see how the roots have grown and how much they have grown.
A few minutes ago, I helped the same little hands add a tiny cardboard shepherd girl to our vintage Advent calendar -the most powerful story of light and hope and promise.