I got a little lonely yesterday. It was bound to happen I suppose. It snowed in the morning--those big cornflake sized flakes alternating with gusts of tiny wet flakes almost like sleet. You can watch it coming towards the house from across the mountains to the southwest where the ocean is. The Internet forecast said it would do this all day. It isn’t that I can’t drive in snow; I’m from Minnesota after all! It’s the slickness of steep hills around here should they ice up. So I made myself a nuisance to Carolyn. I’d made arrangements to shadow her and her husband as they took Communion to residents of a local nursing home, and I was looking forward to doing it. So I called around nine -- “I don’t think I can drive in this.” Then “I can’t drive in this.” Then the sun came out for a minute and I made another call to say I thought I could, but they were already gone. “Well,” I said aloud to no one but myself and Mo, “I guess there was some reason I needed to stay home today.”
Maybe the reason was to make bread. It turned into Christmas rolls. Christmas music filled the spaces of the house, not “Let It Snow,” but the more classical kind: medieval carols, Nutcracker, Ave Maria… In the afternoon I sat down with Mary Gordon’s new book, READING JESUS: A Writer’s Encounter with the Gospels. I’d started it a few weeks ago but the Preface didn’t grab me. But now I’m into the heart of it and loving her approach--recognizing it as a writer’s approach, the approach of one who understands how literature is made, and even more than that--how to read it.
Every once in a while I’d look up at the Christmas Willow Tree Angels on the mantle, at the Advent candles, at the lighted angel John and I bought for the top of the tree (but this year not on a tree but beside the picture of John) and feel a pang of loneliness. For a while I wondered if I should have braved the snow and possible ice to be with the people in the nursing home. Maybe I wouldn’t have been lonely there. But then I realized: this is my reason for being home--to know this and to experience the love that caused the loneliness to occur.
The winter holidays become frenetic sometimes. It can be fun, particularly if all the hustle and bustle involves children. I’m loving news about nieces and nephews, pictures of their wonder-filled eyes. But I also hear of jangled adults many of whom are attempting to meet unrealizable expectations that become more complex and impossible each year. And I want to put my arms around them and whisper, “Do only what flows from the love in your heart.”
The gift we give to one another is the gift of ourselves. Every tangible object or action is a sign of that self-gifting or it means nothing. Wouldn’t it be wonderful and peaceful if all our Christmas activities bore the mark of calm and thoughtful love? Sometimes it takes a pang of our own loneliness to remind us to let go of the frenzy, to settle into the love from which the loneliness arose, and to remember the amazing gift we are given in each moment of life, in the eyes of each person we meet, in the heart and hands of all who have ever loved us. The gift, of its very nature, then flows without effort through us, exactly as the other person needs.
Peace to you,