The windows in the office area of Ascension don’t open and they are made of a glass that looks like it might be leaded—I don’t even know what it’s called but I do know it is not completely transparent so when I look out my windows everything’s blurred. I chafe a bit at that—I like looking out; even more, on cool (or at least cooler) days, I wish I could open my windows.
Fall in the River Region here in Central Alabama is not as spectacular as other places. Driving around in the past few days I noticed that after the heavy rains and wind of week before last, we’ve pretty much gone straight into the winter landscape of denuded, grey trees and shriveled up and brown kudzu with only a few exceptions here and there. Fall is not about a whole landscape but individual trees dressed in fall foliage that are simply stunning.
Yesterday, as I gathered my things after church, I looked out one of our windows and realized that for all its opacity, the window offered me one perfect glimpse of autumn. It seemed appropriate to be able to stop and look through the glass, ever so dimly, as Thanksgiving Weekend wrapped up, as the first Sunday in Advent settled into me and my thoughts turned to the reflections I will write this week in preparation for the Advent retreat I am leading next Saturday. We’re supposed to get more rain this week and I suspect by week’s end, the color will be gone.
The harvest is done and now come the months of slowing down, even in the midst of a lot of busy-ness, of letting eyes rest a bit from the wonder of so much color, life and gift all around me. My dad will arrive to visit in a couple of weeks and, God willing, so will Maria, a couple of days before Christmas. This is the inside time of winter, so different from what we experienced in Southeast Florida. I like the sense of gathering in, gathering together. I am glad for the fallow season.
It is a long way from Lowndesboro to Fort Lauderdale when you have to drive. A long way. Our dear travelers have been on the road for 12 hours already with another 2 to go. My sweet daughter started texting with anxiety a while ago. It was tempting to get concerned for our wonderful friends as well as the girl and to feel helpless.
The thing is, she has her smart phone (not an iPhone, but good enough). Instead of getting any more concerned, I started making short videos of me singing songs we’ve used at bedtime for years. Some of them we both learned for the Eucharists at El Centro. One was the only Spanish Christmas carol she knew when she came to be our daughter. And the last one was “You’d better watch out”. I am no singer and I’m a little mortified that the other two people in the car have been subjected to my warbling. But her text in response said this: “It is great and will Com for cristmiss on distemper 22 second.” (We are beginning to make plans for a second visit starting 12/22).
We keep finding our way…
Maria is with us today and tomorrow. Earlier, she and I drove into town singing along to Juanes and Shakira and laughed till our stomach hurt. Then she and her new best friend, Mo, had some cuddle time. Sunshine, love, joy. To all of you who celebrate this holiday, Happy Thanksgiving…
I have just come back into the house from cutting the last of the roses that are still blooming, the sage I will need to make the dressing on Thanksgiving day, the cilantro that won’t survive the first real freeze heading our way. Later this evening, some of our oldest, dearest friends will arrive for a couple of days and after that, it will be two other friends; if all continues as things are right now, they will bring our daughter.
This year, Thanksgiving has a new meaning for me. We’ve worked the land this year, and continue to feast from its bounty—last night we had broccoli and carrots from our garden, there’s a big cabbage and turnips and turnip greens for the days ahead. Earlier this morning, I heard an incredible racket out in the chicken coop and was blessed to open the nest boxes to find two eggs: one, a perfect light green egg, the other, a little smaller, of an equally stunning pink-brown hue. I have cans of our produce in my pantry and freezer, so this place I call home now has roots I have never experienced before.
Reflecting on my life these days pushed me to go back and look at pictures of this year and after a long time without doing any of my little videos, I realized I had one taking shape so I worked on it between gardening, doing my chicken work, making soup and writing a sermon.
I will spend most of the afternoon on the translation project that I am about to wrap up, maybe as early as next weekend. That project keeps me connected to a far bigger world than my own and ways of looking at the world very different than mine. On Monday, I have to officiate at another Pauper’s funeral, a bleak reminder of the depth of brokenness and need for redemption in the world. A clergy woman and writer I respect enormously, MaryAnn McKibben Dana keeps me learning about “the theology of improvisation” and as we find our way into Thanksgiving, what I am most grateful for is the God who continues to dwell in this most broken of worlds and says to us in the midst of even of horror, “yes, and….”
Pepita, my Americana’s, first egg
We drove through rain all day, headed back home. Sometimes, the rain was blinding. When we got to the farm, we found a flooded garage and shop—since late morning today, Lowndesboro had received 4 inches of rain. I also found out that Ascension has lost another one of its deeply faithful, beloved parishioners.
The small gift of the week really is small, especially against the backdrop of so much else that is painful, broken, lost and afraid. Perhaps it is the very size and exquisite beauty of its simplicity that makes this freshly laid egg even more of a miracle.
The Smokies on an overcast fall day
A few stubborn leaves refusing to let go
And rivers that run fast…
A quick visit to our wonderful friends in North Carolina that has included some time for photography. In the meantime, back home, one of our girls laid an egg today…