Friday, December 6, 2013

Guess What?

I was published online in Catapult Magazine!

Check it out: https://www.catapultmagazine.com/celebrate/article/the-stories-of-christmas

And since they didn't include pictures, here are the covers of some of the books I talk about in my article:










Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Slow down and wait

Tonight the Pilot had to go to bed early for an extra-early brief in the morning, and I am left in the quiet house with the lights on the Christmas tree and the Nativity scene on the bookshelf. And I started to wonder, and got my notebook and pen because I wonder best on paper, and I wrote, is loneliness an opportunity for stillness?

These quiet, solitary evenings when my husband needs to go to bed early, perhaps they are my chance to press into the quietness and look for the kind of silence that speaks of peace– the solitude that tunes my easily distractible heart towards the voice of God.

I am slowing down this Christmas. After more than two months of being forced to wait for answers that never came about the Pilot's possible deployment– answers that still haven't come, a deployment that still technically could be possible– I am actually choosing waiting. I want this to be a Christmas I savor, not one where I gulp down the days and then reach Christmas Day with a case of spiritual indigestion.

For the second time, I am reading Paula Gooder's Advent devotional, The Meaning is in the Waiting. Last year my friend Lexie and I read it together– ironically, we had to rush to finish it before she left to spend her Christmas with family in another state. These past four December days, I have tried to be intentional and slow, reading each section out loud to my husband (or he to me), taking in the words and digging for the meaning.
 
I am trying to practice waiting– that long-forgotten art which is practically anathema to our instant-gratification centered culture. Christmas activities which I rushed to accomplish last year I am deliberately putting off this year. We did buy a Christmas tree the first of December, but we let it stand a couple of days in fresh, natural beauty. At first we did this to let its branches settle, but then we realized how lovely it was without ornaments– a strange, unexpected, glorious thing, a living tree in a living room. Last night we added just the lights. Perhaps we'll wait till next week to hang the ornaments. Perhaps we'll take a whole week to decorate it, choosing just three or four ornaments a day so that we can better revel in their individual beauty.

Decorating the house and baking the cookies were both things I did so quickly and so early last year that I didn't stop to actually enjoy them. I was so focused on checking things off the list, I forgot that they could actually be fun. I have a special c.d. of Christmas music which is one of my very favorites, and I've decided not to listen to it until Christmas week. My favorite Christmas piano solo is an arrangement of "Of The Father's Love Begotten" combined with "Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming", and I have not yet played it, even though I started practicing other Christmas pieces weeks ago. The arrangement is so haunting, so lovely, that it deserves to be waited for just a little longer.

Paula says that the practice of waiting trains us to become aware of the presence of God in our lives. Our natural response to waiting is to chafe against it, to skip it entirely, or try to distract ourselves from it. We become so totally engrossed with the "next thing" that we cannot appreciate where we are right now. But someone who can see nothing but the "next thing" will never see the hand of God in the here-and-now. Whereas someone who intentionally practices waiting well is more likely to catch glimpses through the veil of what we call "reality" into the grand and glorious story which God is telling, and respond in worship.

I want my life to be spangled with those moments of breathless seeing and worshipful response.

I want to slow down and wait, to abide with the One who is intimately arranging every detail of my life for my best possible good.

I want to see the goodness of God in this moment– not last week, or what I hope He will do three days from now or three years from now, but right now, in my waiting, in the stillness.

I want to hear the silence whisper Emmanuel.