We’re finally moved into our new house! We still have a bunch of boxes to unpack, but our kitchen and living areas are mostly done. We’ve had friends over for dinner and fires in the fireplace and pictures up on the walls. It’s starting to feel like home. Last night, we finally bought our tree: The only Christmas decoration in the house. (And perhaps the only one for this year.)
In some ways, it hasn’t felt like Christmas because of the move. No baking or decorating. No time for little events around town. But… We’ve been reading books with Bea and talking about the nativity. She found some of my old art history books and a few are specifically about the ancient icons of the nativity. It’s been amazing to look through these photographs of icons and mosaics of long ago. It’s reminded me of the true reason for Christmas: Not the decorations or even the traditions, but this time to stop, breathe, reflect, and adore a small baby.
By the time December 25 comes, we’ll be ready. Gifts will have been bought and wrapped and we’ll have a few more decorations up. In the meantime, I’m embracing this unusual holiday and taking the time to stop, sit by the fire, and remember the history and miracle that we are celebrating.
Even though it’s not officially summer until the end of the month, June signals the start of the season, in my mind. I’ve never had a job that didn’t recognize summertime – either in that it was only for that short season or because we had it as a break. Even with only working a couple days per week, the last gallery tour of the year made me gear up for summer mode. Even my weekly book club is scaling back and incorporating family picnic dinners instead of discussions into our routine.
I’m looking forward to this summer. Bea is old enough to start backyard camping, and our goal is to finally figure out family camping – it’s been two years, which seems way too long! I’m looking forward to boredom and hammocks and parks and water tables and hiking and no schedule. In some ways, I think we’ll have more fun since Bea is more adventurous. In other ways, I’ll have to be more creative in getting us out of the house, since the backyard seems smaller than last year.
Last night, Frank and I kept the TV off and our phones put away and sat on the back patio, drinking beer and watching the garden after Bea went to bed. As we were chatting, we saw a hummingbird fly to our newly planted, hummingbird-attracting flowers. It flitted around for a while, drinking nectar and exploring. I hope s/he spreads the word. Bea has been looking longingly at our feeder, saying, “I hope birds come someday!” Now, maybe they’ll come back during the day.
The outdoor time, the slower pace, the lightness and warmth, the fresh fruits and veggies, grilling and eating outside. Even in the unbearable heat that seems to last longer each year, summer is such a social and active season. It seems to reset the busyness of spring, with tax season and planting and reconnecting. Summertime is when we rest and slow down.
What are some of your favorite summertime activities?
A few years ago, Frank’s Aunt Theresa gave me The Gift, a book of poems by Hafiz. I once read that you should read a poem every day, so I keep it in Bea’s playroom and have been working my way through it, one poem at a time. I like to only read one poem a day, even if it’s a short one, so that I can really mull it over.
When she gave me the book, Theresa said I needed to randomly open to a poem and that would be my poem. I did, and I was a bit disappointed by my selection. It wasn’t as …poetic as I was hoping for. But, since it was my poem, I’ve read and reread it over the years. And, the more I reread it, the more it resonates with me. It is a beautiful poem and very reflective of me.
Like so many things, it has taken some time, but now it is my poem.
“There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.”
Some days it is easy to be the candle – to give light. When Bea and I are reading together and she “reads” the words she knows in her books, I am encouraged to model for her a love of literature. When we are cooking together as a family or playing. Sometimes I feel like a candle with my friends – encouraging, listening, being an active participant in their lives.
Other times, I am exhausted and all I can do is reflect the light. On those days, when Frank reads with Bea, I can affirm the words with her, even though I don’t want to snuggle in. Maybe it means letting someone else in our community take on a friend’s needs; that I can be supportive without actually, physically being there.
I can get discouraged when I don’t feel like I am “the candle” all the time and this quote is a wonderful reminder to me that, even as a mirror, I am still reflecting light. Our Advent reading the other day was John 1:8, about how John was not the Light, but he was simply a witness to the Light. That being “simply a witness” is enough.