Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Silence of Holidays

The holiday season begins tomorrow with Thanksgiving, a star-wrapped and studded lineup of celebrations, parties, and endless shopping that will deposit me on January 6th feeling thankful, exhausted, and wondering if I am better for it.

The woods behind my house have a different idea. Instead of packing my schedule and trying to fit every event in, the woods beckon me to sit in silence. They call me to sit and think about what has gone on this year in my life. They call me to think about the lives of others and what they might need, not in terms of physical gifts, but in terms of presence, encouragement, and help with some struggle. The truth is, I don’t know if everyone really needs a new waffle iron this year. Sue might like a box of tea and an afternoon drinking the first serving with me. Steve might like to share a walk along Lake Mendota and catch up on how our lives have shifted this year. Jeff might like a helping hand for a day as he cleans up his basement and organizes it into a writing space that will enable him to finally sit down and write his book.

The holidays are not about the tinsel. They’re about slowing my activities down, not speeding them up.
They’re about listening to myself and to others. One evening after a worship service I walked around town as six inches of snow was falling, muffling the sounds of the occasional car going by. I walked by houses with windows and people inside lit up in warm light and celebrating. I kept walking and went down to the river and listened to nature, to the sounds of the water flowing past, to the ducks and geese in the distance, and the quietness of the trees. It was a silence filled with the most amazing sounds, thoughts, and feelings of hope.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


The trees, naked of leaves now in the woods behind the house, hold their bodies towards the sky, raise their arms in thankfulness to the Creator for the year that is ending, raise their arms in praise and prayer and supplication. The oaks spread their strong arms to the side and twirl like whirling Sufis, bringing the Creator to earth to feed the people acorns and protect them with their stout branches and trunks.

The seasons rise and swirl around us. As we notice, so are we blessed.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

In the Darkness

In the darkness before dawn, in the quiet of the hours before people rise out of their beds, before the traffic on the street picks up and sunlight wakes the birds to come to the feeder, there is silence. In the fullness of this silence, I open myself to everything, and believe that all things are possible today. Then sunlight illuminates my hands, and I’m ready to get to work.