Hello my darlings,
Again, where has the time gone??? I’m sorry I’ve been neglecting my updates–so much fun and goodness has been going on in my life since I last wrote, so I feel behind on updating you all on my house projects and spiritual musings. I had all sorts of intentions of writing a Thanksgiving post particularly, listing all the things for which I am thankful. I was going to call it “The First Thanksgiving,” and it would be a marker of celebrating my first Turkey Day/Native American Pride Day (more on that later) in my lovely new home. I’d hoped to host the feast and have a house full of people with whom to give thanks. But then, I decided that still not having an oven in my kitchen posed a slight problem, and also I was on-call and had to work the day after. So, you know, that was that.
And so already that holiday has come and gone. This very evening we had our annual hospice staff holiday party, and I thought to myself, Where has this past year gone? It seems as though we were just celebrating last year, and here we are again, on our way to Christmas and the beginning of another new year.
I’ve had that thought quite frequently this past year–especially the past few months. I’m afraid that perhaps I’ve passed the tipping point of my life–that somehow, subconsciously, my mind and soul know that I’m on the downhill, and that life and time are only going to feel faster and faster as they pass by. Being as I’m not yet 33, I hope to God that I’m not already past half of my life. Yet, as someone who works daily with the dying, I can’t help but wonder how long I will live–how many more years will I have to take in as much goodness and adventure as possible? How much longer do I have to share my joy and love with the world and those I encounter?
So having to do with this post’s title–my big revelation this past week came when I realized that if I had a personal assistant, my life would be a whole lot easier. Let’s just say that it’s pretty bad when one of the tasks on my “list of things to do,” was to gather all my varying said “lists” from different parts of the house (my art room, my writing desk, my work folder, my purse…) and compile them into one big “LIST” of things to do, and then check off that list the task which was to compile lists and consolidate them into a single, more updated and orderly LIST.
Ughhhhhhhhhhhhhh, see what I mean…….????????
Alas, most of this past weekend was begrudgingly spent trying to catch up on errands and jobs that I’ve been putting off for weeks or months. (Beth–my new goal is to get you last year’s Christmas present by this Christmas, so there’s that…) Some of it had its rewards–I felt quite empowered to finally get my new wireless router set up (jobs involving wires and “signals” generally freak me out, and I did have to call the help line, but still…). And, I sold a handful of things on Craigslist, so now I’ve got a nice wad of cash, plus much more room in my garage, which is nice.
One job that I’m particularly proud of completing was the planting of 150 bulbs in my front flower beds. I’m preaching this coming Sunday–the third Sunday of Advent–and so some of these thoughts are results of my mind and spirit working on how to reflect on “waiting” and “hope” and “expectation” and “anticipation.” These are the themes of Advent, and all of these grand ideas have their place in the humble bulb.
Bulbs don’t possess any inherent beauty. They are brown lumps of fiber, which we place deep into the earth with the hope that in a few months, a delicate flower will emerge from the dirt. It takes a lot of faith to place anything in the ground and expect something entirely different to grow out of it–given enough time, darkness, and water, that is.
And yet, that’s what happens. Important work is taking place underground, where it is dark and cold and seemingly lifeless. Work that we are not privy to, but rather work that we must only trust is happening beyond our sight, out of our control.
So as I dug holes and placed handfuls of daffodil and tulip and hyacinth and anemone bulbs into the dark, moist soil, I thought to myself, I don’t think we’re really “bulb” people–I think we’re more “annual” people… Actually, as most people don’t grow gardens or spend much time working in the dirt anymore, maybe we’re really “bouquet” people…?? At least, as a culture of middle-class Americans, I think this is true.
What I’m saying is that I don’t think we are people who like to wait. I think we are shaped to expect and prefer instant gratification with the least amount of effort. Drive-thru meals. 3-d printers. Text messaging. Microwave popcorn. So many details of our daily existence are about urgency, rather than patience. (Now don’t get me wrong–the little introvert in me prefers to communicate via text, and I’m not above eating microwave popcorn and drinking club soda for dinner. But still…)
People nowadays don’t expect to have to wait for much of anything. Rather, we expect that we will get what we want when we ask for it–that there is no “reason” for having to wait longer than is comfortable for us. We are an “on-demand” culture–give me what I want, and give it to me now. And if indeed we are ever made to wait longer, it’s usually because something has gone dreadfully wrong. Apologies are usually made by staff people to clients who have been made to wait an unreasonable length of time for their service.
No, it is not in our nature to wait–not anymore, at least. I think people used to have to wait all the time. Maybe they didn’t even notice they were waiting, because to live was to wait. It used to be that family members and lovers would wait with hope and faith for months to receive a letter from thousands of miles away, reassuring one that one’s beloved was in fact still alive, let alone thinking fondly about them. People used to possess the skills to grow their own food and raise their own meat, to weave their own fabrics and sew their own clothes. These were crafts and trades that took years of practice to master. Countless hours of work went into producing something both useful and necessary–and, I might add, often beautiful.
We, on the other hand, are annual people. We are delighted that, as spring warms up and summer sets in, we can drive by a big box store like Walmart or the Home Depot, and spot those colorful racks full of annuals, already showing their color and ready to be placed in the ground (of course, they’ll be pulled out and thrown away in just a few months–but don’t even get me started on that…). The hard work has been done–someone somewhere in an industrial greenhouse far, far away has painstakingly planted the seed, nurtured it in its infancy for the past several months, and gotten it to be a convenient 4-6 inches high. So now all we have to do is pay a few dollars to buy entire flats full of these annuals, and place them in the ground. Instant beauty–inexpensive, and easy to maintain.
But how different is it to take the time to work outside in the freezing rain and blowing wind, digging holes and planting sacks full of bulbs? Quite different, indeed–I can assure you. My yard looks no more beautiful now than it did Saturday morning, before those 150 bulbs were put in their place. As I said, I hope all 150 of my bulbs come up out of the dirt in March or April, and that my first full spring at my house is beautified with dozens of yellow and pink and purple flowers dotting my front yard. But it’s all a gamble. I don’t know for sure at this point that any of those bulbs will mature and blossom into the perfect flowers that appear on the package labels. But, I will wait and see. I will wait with hope and anticipation, trusting that important–no, necessary–work is happening underground. That in the darkness, and in the cold of winter, life is being stitched together, and that life and beauty will emerge, in time.
Advent blessings for whatever you are waiting for that is growing in the cold and in the darkness, beyond your sight, and out of your hands.