Outside my dining room window we planted Holly. The plants were no more than large bushes when they went into the ground almost 10 years ago, but now they have surpassed their intended purpose, which was to grow tall and branch out and give us a lovely green screen in front of our fence . Each year, they produce enough holly branches and red berries to decorate the whole neighborhood with fresh holly. But the berries are unformed in the beginning, then small green nubs which swell. Around Thanksgiving, or our first colder weather,I begin looking out the window to watch as the berries take on a blush, deepening to a burnt orange, before finally glowing Christmas red. As I wait and watch, the right time comes to bring some branches and berries inside for our own “hanging of the green.”
Advent’s theme involves waiting and watching while preparing for the coming Christ. As I wake and greet God’s new mercies each morning during Advent, the color in this ancient story deepens. As I wait and watch and reach, the time grows nearer for me to gather the brilliant mystery once again and celebrate.
My pastor reminds us that each time we meet, there is a story on every pew that can break your heart. I know some of those stories, and I know that he is right. I also know that we need to hear each other’s stories if we are to know and trust and help each other.
” It always amazes me to think that every house on every street is full of so many stories; so many triumphs and tragedies, and all we see are yards and driveways. ~Glenn Close, American Film and Stage Actress
Part of my daily walk takes me by the front yards of houses in our neighborhood, but the last mile or so of the walk is around a small lake behind the back of houses with wrought iron fences. I see beautiful landscaping, luxurious pools, and groupings of comfortable outdoor furniture. Some even have outdoor kitchens. I enjoy my walks, but I very seldom see another person except the few who are on the path for jogging or cycling. The only signs of life are the dogs in several of the back yards. I don’t see the stories, but I know that they are there.
Wendell Berry expands this need for story in What Are People For? “When a community loses its memory, its members no longer know one another. How can they know one another if they have forgotten or have never learned one another’s stories? If they do not know one another’s stories, how can they know whether or not to trust one another? People who do not trust one another do not help one another, and moreover they fear one another. And this is our predicament now.”
I want to be a part of a community that has not lost its memory. I do not want to forget. Writing and blogging is one way I share my story with you, a hospitality of spirit for me. What about you? In what ways do you tell your story and how are you able to listen to that of others?