I have no profound thoughts to share at the beginning of this year’s Advent season. It is unseasonably cold here in Mississippi, as it is throughout much of the country this week, the darkness comes early, and cold and flu season has already begun having its way with my family’s health. As a result I am tired, stuffy-headed, and feel like the space between now and Christmas will be one long, exhausting, uphill trek.
I don’t always feel this way. Often I love this time of year and greet the beginning of the fast with excitement. Even this year I am looking forward to the quietness and peace of winter, and also looking forward to sharing some comforting, nourishing vegan recipes that help me survive sniffles and coughs without chicken soup. But at the same time I know that it is okay to not always be “in the spirit” of the season. We don’t always know where we need to go next, nor can we always see the best way to get there. Sometimes it is enough to accept the moment as it is, even when it is not what you would wish it to be.
Three years ago this week I gave birth to a loved and hoped-for baby boy. The night before his birth brought the first frost of the season. As we drove to the hospital early on that Friday morning I watched the first rays of sunlight turn each frosted leaf and blade of grass into a sparkling crystal sculpture. It was beautiful, but I knew it was also deadly, and that the world I would encounter when I brought my baby home several days later would be dead and brown because of it. I did not know that I would come home having experienced my own killing frost, or that it would take me all winter and much of the spring to climb back from the dark, lonely place I found myself in after my son’s birth. I’ll leave you with my thoughts from an afternoon in December, when he was just a few weeks old.
A mild, mid-December day. Mild enough to wrap a tiny baby and sit on the bench with him, blowing bubbles for his sister. Bubbles in winter are not like summer bubbles. Summer bubbles’ fleeting rainbows fly like childhood’s sweetness, spilling, dancing, bubbling over, catch-it-while-you-can. These winter bubbles hang, suspended in the silence, shivering golden in the wintery light. They speak to me of other things. This bleak mid-winter moment will be fleeting, too. The soul’s winters do not last forever. And perhaps memory will gild this moment like the sun-kissed bubbles, wrap these raw, ragged feelings in soft, shivering gold, to hang for a moment in the stillness before they gently drift away.