FAREWELL

We Leave Thee

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          There is a temptation to write off and stuff this old year into an invisible drawer never to be opened again. But I cannot yield to it, for despite the darkness and the stress endured, there has been much beauty in this mottled, troubled year.

          There is no way I can turn my heart away from His gifts to us because God gave us so much. So very much. He softened the difficulty of studying and working online from home through the consolation of good health and of our jobs being intact at a time when so many lost their livelihoods, when so many fell ill and too many did not return to life. Yes, like so many, we struggled to make adjustments to stay home orders and to unfair and poorly thought out government directives. But He buoyed us on with hope through happy news concerning our children. At the end of each day, we stumbled away from our laptops and phones, mentally drained from work, upset and frustrated with our employers, little wine left in our barrels.

          And God changed water into wine through the miraculous renewal of our family life. He taught us how to lock our gates against trespassers and instead, to turn the gaze of our hearts towards the gem of family, of time spent together.

God gifted us with laughter. Precious laughter.

This year, for every day of anger and hurt, there were ten times more of mirth and joy.

          Then, the sky of Advent dawned quietly in the frenzied churn of life. For years, the road to Christmas has been dark for me. Even when the sun began to slowly pierce the winter, the cold and dark hovered too close by. Even as I built fires for everyone else, my own hearth remained unlit.

The light would not come.

          Year after year, I would ache in hidden disappointment that God had passed me by yet again, my outstretched heart left empty, my seeking bereft.

          This year, not wanting to hope for a miracle (yet going ahead and hoping all the same), I took to heart the words of my friend, Linda Raha, – Make every day Christmas. I decided then and there that my Christmas would be that.

That the Light of Christmas in my hearth would be the Light of Christmas let in for others.

          That I would stand by the windows of other hearts and rejoice as the sacred Light of a newborn Babe warmed and healed those spaces. That even when I had to return to my own empty and wind-chilled heart, it would only be to resolutely light and stoke to life fires of thanksgiving and gratitude.

          And not forgetting – to gather up more wood to make more Christmas fires for others. Prayers for friends braving so many unsurmountables yet forging forwards in love. Love for those who hate the Jesus they do not know. For those who need Christmas in order to love. For poor muslim friends hiding their poverty behind brave smiles. For the old and the sick in our family, separated from loves by Covid.

That would be my Christmas and that would suffice, I schooled my heart firmly.

Heaven must have smothered a smile at my efforts, and angels surely clapped back their mirth. For they knew what I did not.

On Christmas Day, Heaven spilled Light into my heart.

          Not bright, joy-giddy Light, but a different Light. Many Lights. Gentle and playful Lights, little lamps loved and released yet cherished in secret. Lights wan yet so sweet, passed through hearts gone before us. Lights lit from love old and worn from waiting, yet firmly steadfast in the quiet of Hope Eternal.

          Today, as the winds blow their last notes among plump, white clouds and sun-drenched swaying boughs, my heart traces the whorls and lines of the old year once more.

          It is then that I see something. Strangely, today, none of the old anguish, those dark sentinels which have jealously guarded bitter memories, charge towards me. They are gone. Even as the memory of difficult days remain, the stain of pain is no more.

          Pondering this, I recall the words of my pastor in his Christmas Vigil sermon, his heartfelt exhortation to each one of us to pray for a miracle at the Crib of the Wee Child. Taking his words to heart, I had obeyed promptly that night. In spirit at the Crib’s edge, my plea had been direct,

Please Lord,

Miracle

Miracle,

Miracle.

And a miracle it was!

          Through the power of the Crib, the old shadows have gone, mysteriously brushed away from my spirit’s sight.

          The night grows old now, the last rains of the year fall in final benediction. Poised for flight into the new year, one last look at all that was,

Farewell!–we leave thee to Heaven’s peaceful care…

A Time for New Roads

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There is an appointed time for everything,

and a time for every affair under the heavens.

a time to embrace, and a time to be far from embraces.   ~  Ecclesiastes 3: 1, 5

          September closes her petals tonight. She has lived her month heroically, going from one difficult day to the next. She will soon draw her last breath for the year, before sinking into grateful slumber.

          Before another year comes.

          This will be a September I will always remember, marked in the way July is, yet differently. A very difficult and stressful September, yet dimpled so beautifully with pretty joys and warm loves. Autumn has come to many of those dear to me. As the leaves sweeten into their farewell hues, many have begun preparing for the coming winter. Putting away things of summer and pulling out winter wears and supplies. Saying goodbye to one season and welcoming the next.

A time for every affair under the heavens

          October pearls open tomorrow, but for now, I have these final hours of September, going gently to her deserved rest. Many things crowd our doorway. For once, I do not get fussy and set about clearing them away for they will soon be gone. When October morning raises its eyes to the awakening sun tomorrow, our lives will forever change in the way it has changed for so many families. We will weather it, as we have so many other shifts. There will be happy days, and days when even the softest rain must fall, for life must sing different notes for it to mean something.

          It is night, when after small chores, I slip away into the embrace of my garden. So much has happened this September, and more will come for sure, but for now, all I wanted was some still minutes to gather up the thoughts which needed keeping, and to release the ones that were ready to go. I sat in my old chair by the flowers’ edge and looked up at the dark night sky, so oddly visible now after the big trees in our garden had endured a great pruning. This had been another great change for us. To see huge portions of branches so familiar to us now cut away to make way for new life. Not pleasant but necessary.

… the winter is past,
the rains are over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth,
the time of pruning the vines has come,
and the song of the dove is heard in our land.
The fig tree puts forth its figs,
and the vines, in bloom, give forth fragrance.
Arise, My beloved, My beautiful one,
and come!   ~   Song of Songs 2: 11 – 13

           Above me, the grey~white clouds gather in huge swathes and puffs, in silent trysts, yielding me no account of their words. Even the moon and stars are unseen, busy in their chambers. It is night, yet even the heavens are about their business.

          I can feel a storm is building. The air is humid and quietly restless. Soon, it is time to get up and go back inside. We still have some ways to go before we are done for the night. I make my way past the marigold bushes and vines of old-fashioned roses pressing their kisses towards the old house. My beloved zinnias lean towards me as I pass them, even in the night smiling their love into my heart.

All will be well

          Softly, gently, sweetly, September leads us to roads not travelled yet.

          Then, she slips back to her Maker.

LENT 40 ~ Sound of a Goodbye

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          It is a tenderly beautiful day of hushed breezes, windbrooms sweeping away the old and all that is worn down by sin, every little bud of wrong pried of its tethers and sent away.

          It begins as a day of hope for a Light much needed and yearned for.

          I hear the winds as they sing their mysteries, hushing yet lifting, placing hearts and lives within the Heart of the slain Lamb Risen. I sing and I sing and sing.

          And then, for some minutes, the windsongs change their notes. In the briefest of minutes, a chilling in the gold~blue warmth through green welcomes. A hush of caution I hear.

          I am led to a valley hidden, in the sundrenched blue of morning, where the winds sing differently for a wee while. They whisper their notes in my heart.

          I hear the sound of a goodbye.

          Something, somewhere will never be the same again.