Blogging towards Bethlehem

All kinds of seasonal observations going on today. George points to online Advent devotionals hosted by his church. (I believe this is the first church website I’ve ever seen that has message boards.) The December 1st devotional has particularly sage advice: “Perhaps this Christmas, rather than following the cultural rules of yuletide—shopping, decoration, cards, parties, busyness, you might mark the birth of the Lord of the sabbath by acts of mercy and compassion upon those who have need.”

I could have used that advice last night as I struggled to finish decorating our tree (the one I abandoned from exhaustion on Sunday night). It took forever. Apparently new Christmas light strings are deliberately shipped as twisted masses of wire. Three hundred untwisted lights later, we started hanging ornaments. How is it that, despite only having done one Christmas tree prior to this, we had something like eight boxes of ornamental glass balls? That’s a lot of glass for one tree. Lisa likes the end result, but I’m still trying to get used to the result. I grew up with plain white lights and these are colored, which contributes to the cognitive dissonance I experience when I look at the tree (ceci n’est pas un Christmas tree, or, as David Byrne would say, “This is not my beautiful tree!”). But I think it’s growing on me.

Back to Advent devotionals. Mom sent a finding from her church’s devotional booklet: a reprint of Sylvia Plath’s “Black Rook in Rainy Weather.” Mom is nothing if not au courant with happenings here in the Northwest, as our ten day long sunshine spell just broke today. It seems ironic to think about Plath in any sort of Christmas context, but this poem grabs both the catch of breath on finding the sublime in nature and the waiting through fatigue for miracles to come.

The last is probably the hardest bit. But I’m coming to realize that we all have to “[trek] stubborn through the season of fatigue” and “patch together a content of sorts.” Or as Anne Sexton writes in The Awful Rowing Towards God, “The story ends with me still rowing.” Or as Dave likes to say in a different context, “Dig we must.” After all, what’s the alternative? Whatever it is, I think waiting for the miracle beats worrying about the rough beast around the corner.