Good Ideas #4

There are lots of good stories happening right now, trust me. There’s the one about Sam and some crutches and the introspection that small set-backs often brings. There’s the one about getting the trees with Nanny and Pa and how wee Burke, who is almost 4, kept running around on the coldest morning, turning the regular trees into talking trees and laughing like crazy the whole time. There was Platt standing up in church on Sunday letting everyone know he was donating the light-up manger scene out front so we can use it every year. My own amazement at how much I like looking out my window and seeing that crazy thing all lit up on these chilly Advent season nights. There was Matt, also in church on Sunday, suggesting that we sing Silent Night: “Why just once a year?” he asked, so wisely.

There was Amy showing up in church Sunday morning, so beautiful and bright and unexpected, and when I asked if anyone could read the German part she raised her hand, the only one! How does that happen? That people and things often show up precisely when we need them?

There are the folks who have been coming to me quietly, asking how they can help. Who do I know that needs help this season? I’ve become a kind of clearinghouse for information, of connection, from those in need to those who have time and the heart to ask where to go.

There was Sunday when everyone I ran into said I love you. It was kind of funny. Everyone was expressing love that day. Hugging and saying I. Love. You.

The smells. My god I love the smells so much! The tree in the house, the orange and clove things we make every year, ever since I learned how, in fifth grade. In olfactory terms alone this is the greatest time of the year.

There are the people who need our prayers, some desperately, right now, and the people who are lifting up their voices and hearts in prayer, with strength and conviction. And how the prayers are working the magic that prayers so often do.

And then there are the surprises, the little things that catch you off guard when the season is tumbling forward so quickly and you can’t keep up: someone asks to buy a photograph long since removed from any public space, the collaboration on a project comes together so beautifully and new friends are discovered and old ties strengthened. The message from my brother telling me his table design, “Missy’s table” is in final stages—the metal fabrication person has done his part; the photo showing me it is beautiful, so beautiful.

Polly sends an Advent calendar from Martha’s Vineyard right when I am wishing for an Advent calendar.

We build, we make, we create, we sing, play, chop, hope, pray. We extend the blessings we hold in our lives. The season, these days are full of it.

And there is, of course, the anticipation of the days coming: the boys returning home; Revels at Emma Willard with my beloved Katie; trying to find the pickle among the hundreds of ornaments on the absolute most amazing tree at 11 Fifth. Christmas Eve and the candlelit Silent Night when the members of our little Whoville join their voices in song, raising light up through the darkness, standing so close, a pileup of humanity in a circle of love. All is calm, all is bright.

I learned from watching the wonderful Fred Rogers documentary that he consciously kept his weight at 143 pounds his whole adult life. He saw those numbers this way:

1 = I
4 = love
3 = you

Good idea #4: love.

There have been hard days, most certainly, and there always will be. Continue to love, like crazy, through the hard days. In spite of. Really. Choose love.

And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. Amen.