We're inching towards a day I dread on the calendar. The winter solstice: shortest day of the year. As a lover of light and warmth, I cringe at the cold, recoiling from the longest dark. When I worked outside the home, I hated these December days even more - commuting to work in the blue-black before dawn, driving home after the sun had already set. All the life seemed sucked out of the hours before I ever got a chance to enjoy them. Small consolations twinkle: Christmas lights flashing through dark neighborhoods, a thick cover of snow that glows luminescent all night long. But still I long for summer's bright yellow light and stretching evenings. Pulling tight the curtains in the kids' rooms to convince them it's time for bed even though their parents plan to sneak back outside barefoot once the covers have been tucked under their chins. But every year in Advent, a season of lighting candles and marking time, we lose sunlight hour by hour. It gnaws at me: how I have to release into … [Read more...] about the shortest days. the longest nights.
Some months of the year are almost too bittersweet to bear. April is one. It teases, coy and cunning, with windows-down 45-degree days, full of more soft breezes than we remembered possible. Then the next day the blizzard dump another 6-to-9 and the interstate is piled with skeletons of cars spun out in six-foot drifts. October is a heartbreaker, too. It starts so bright and beckoning, full of rich yellow light and red leaves splashing the treetops. But by month's end we'll be bracing ourselves against biting winds as we drag costumed kids through dark streets. Too much change in one short month. Today as we colored with chalk on the sidewalk outside (or rather, as I took orders from the tiny artistic director barking over my shoulder: do a square, mama! now do a triangle!), I glimpsed again how the natural world mirrors our own seasons, each one slightly different from last year's version. This is our only fall with a four- and two-year old. No matter what the coming autumns … [Read more...] about oh, october
"The word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision...He brought him outside and said, 'Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them.' Then he said to him, 'So shall your descendants be.' And he believed the Lord; and the Lord reckoned it to him as righteousness." ~ 1st reading for the 2nd Sunday in Lent I always thought Abram was staring up into a dark night sky, dazzled with stars-as-descendants, breathing in cold crisp air as he tried to believe the impossible for a childless man of his age. Turns out I was wrong. Read the rest closely. The sun sets later, as the story slips into Act Two of the fateful covenant, as Abram and God seal the deal over a nighttime sacrifice and a burning torch of hope in the darkness. So the day was likely still bright and blazing when an aging Abram was first asked to trust in stars he could not see. I'm deeply grateful to Ignatian Spirituality's Just Parenting blog for this insight that turned this Sunday's Scripture … [Read more...] about seeing stars in sunlight
Every year I try to love winter. A little bit, at least, as much as a Midwesterner ought. I usually fail, flounder by February with dramatic declarations about how much I hate snow and sub-zero temps and skin cracked so dry it bleeds. But this year I'm trying to be humbled by the cold dark, trying to see what I can learn from stark outlines of bare trees against white skies. Maybe it's because I have new views from windows to notice this year, or because the winter has been (mostly) light on snow. But I find myself drawn to the dark lines of the landscape around me, the hills that slowly emerged as leaves blew away last fall. When we moved here in the spring, the homes around us were hidden behind green trees and lush grass and rows of shrubs. Our new house was tucked into a corner of a hill with woods behind, and I marveled at the soft roll of the land as we walked through the neighborhood. But until winter stripped the yards bare, I didn't realize how dramatic the hills leapt up … [Read more...] about the winter hill: God speaks in seasons