in the bleak midwinter…

Posted by in advent, faith, family, seasons

i was planning to do some christmas baking and all of our shopping over the past two weeks. but at least one, and sometimes two, members of our family has been sick since last monday (if you’re counting, that’s 10 days now). it was the stomach virus, and now some really high-fever congestion/cold thing.

i was also planning to do our tradition St. Nicholas “delivery of gifts in secret” on St. Nicholas day last week, and celebrate St. Lucia today.  but when at least two of the family members in the family are sick, pretty  much everything comes to a grinding halt.

i’m not at all stressed that i haven’t gone christmas shopping yet. and i was reminded why when i remembered this post from last year:


i’m not a fan of being woken in the middle of the night. and that’s exactly what it feels like when i crawl out from under our warm flannel sheets and down comforter at 6:00 a.m. these mornings. i love the morning silence, but the cold…the dark…..

i have to ease into these mornings. keeping advent readings closeby and advent songs on my heart help the start of the day. i’ve also eased into our daily lessons by choosing activities that will encourage the boys towards a sacred moment these days.

the boys still wake with ENERGY, so my deliberate slowed pace these mornings fall flat some times. when i encourage a time of sacred reflection i am met with puzzled looks: “sacred? is that like scared? you want us to feel scared?” and then jokes emerge from the question, and i have three boys in piles of laughter at the kitchen table.

sometimes sacred is not what we think it should feel or look like.

we begin with a prayer and a song as we light our family advent candles. there is sacred in the small little boy voices of “o come, o come, emmanuel” as they are transfixed with the match, the flame, the continuous light from the candle.

aha!  just add fire and voila! silence!  sacred.

“they are getting it!” i think to myself and i feel full of emotion which, again, falls flat as the singing ends and the contest begins to see who can be the first to blow out the candle which breaks into a fight because one didn’t get to blow out the candle and the candle wasn’t supposed to be blown out yet any way!!!

but then i remember…sacred is not what we think it should feel or look like.

sacred is sitting around a kitchen table for with my three energy-filled boys and taking them out in the snow: their favorite place to be these days. sacred is walking out in the bleak wind and snow to care for animals who depend on you for food and warmth. sacred is sitting in the dark, calm of a kitchen giving thanks to God for the three lives sleeping soundly upstairs.

sacred is God in the flesh.


(originally posted, december 9, 2010)