Seven Gratitudes--continues!

Seven Gratitudes--continues!

Such deliberation has been going on in my mind today on this 12th day of Christmas! Should this weekly gratitude roundup continue this year, or no? Has its time come and gone? Is it finished with me, or is that a call I hear to the keyboard? Hmmm...Seems like there is just no way to stop a gratitude practice, so #SevenGratitudes continues! I hope to dabble in many topics here at For the Birds in the year ahead, but the gratitudes really have to keep on rolling. I see no way around it.

Grateful for each of you who stop by every week. Thankful for your texts, messages, and comments. I appreciate your presence and participation--such support and nourishment to my heart! 

Thanks for being here, beloveds!

Seven Gratitudes, vol. 52

Seven Gratitudes, vol. 52

This week I am grateful…

1

For tortilla soup on Christmas Eve.

Between the 5 and 11 o’clock Christmas Eve services on Sunday Pastor Mark and Alison had a whole gaggle of folks over for soup and stories, making much out of that window of time. Even the memory of it now warms my heart. It was simple, really, but good. It felt special, but also quite normal.

It was the beginning of Christmas. 

For being home, Sleigh Ride, & an end to waiting - Seven Gratitudes, vol. 51

For being home, Sleigh Ride, & an end to waiting - Seven Gratitudes, vol. 51

This week I am grateful…

1

To be home.

After our 16-and-a-half hour journey last Friday, Mama and I arrived in Dallas just before 10 p.m. Every light in the house was on, the Sufjan Stevens’ Holiday channel was blaring, and there were candles galore. The house glimmered and shined with welcome.

Nothing will ever compare, though, to my husband’s smiling eyes and the way it felt to fly into his arms. I am home. Thank you, Jesus.

For an epic week and a roadtrip tomorrow! - Seven Gratitudes, vol. 50

For an epic week and a roadtrip tomorrow! - Seven Gratitudes, vol. 50

Beloveds, I’m writing this #SevenGratitudes to you quickly from atop my bed at Grandma’s house this Thursday night because tomorrow I am driving home to my husband. Mama and I are roadtripping. It is going to be epic.

This week has been epic. Here are a few snippets of gratitude, the ones I dare touch on the tails of such a momentously big week.

Thanks for being here.

For loose holds and the last day of class - Seven Gratitudes, vol. 49

For loose holds and the last day of class - Seven Gratitudes, vol. 49

This week I am grateful…

1

For Christmas trees in Advent.

Embracing the liturgical year is a beautiful thing, but it is also a conflicting thing. The Year has cost me some expectations and traditions I grew up enjoying because the Year invites me to dwell deeply within the dynamic story of God’s love for the whole world. This means good news, but it also means I sometimes have to give up the kinda good for the better.

I have come to know that knowing God means holding things loosely because God is always better than I hope, more benevolent than I imagine, and wilder than I can fathom. Trusting God, therefore, is a risk. The symbols and traditions I come to love so much can all of a sudden and drastically not fit the grace I experience, the glimpse of the divine that She gives. Love confounds and breaks the handholds I contrive.

Let them be signs, beloved, reminders and pointers—temporary shelters, not permanent dwellings. Go where I go, hold onto Me. There will be more signs and wonders…

Practically speaking, holding on loosely has looked like an assessment of personal practice and traditions. Aaron and I have been intentionally trying traditions together as a family. It is both fun and frustrating. We have enjoyed listening and learning from the multitude of signs the Body of Christ has recognized over the centuries—form the silly and superstitious, to the sanguine and sacred. But I have also at times gotten stuck in my deliberations with questions like, for instance, when in the WORLD should the Christmas tree go up?

I know some folks put theirs up at the beginning of Advent. Others do a progressive tree dressing: they set up the tree on Advent 1 and add to it every week, with the lights coming on St. Lucy’s feast day and the star on Christmas Eve. Still others save the whole shebang for a solely Christmas Eve tradition, the tree staying up ‘til Epiphany. I have been conflicted about the entire question—I mean, what even IS a Christmas tree anyway?

And then a gift unfolds in the doing. A sign emerges.

My roommates and I put up our tree last Sunday because Holly wanted everyone to be able to enjoy it before we go our separate ways. We gathered. We untangled lights and unwrapped ornaments. We argued tree placement—here or there? This angle or that? And it was perfect.

Meagan pulled out these adorable magi and held them just so, and, just like that, I saw the sign of the Christmas tree for this Year.

I saw pilgrimage and anticipation. I felt the Advent, Christ’s coming, but not yet. I felt my own place on the road, in step with the wise ones from the east on their journey toward a Star they knew meant something wonderful.

The tree became a symbol of Advent. It became a guide for the mystical liminality of this season.

As the magic magi travel up the psychedelic spiral of our colorful Christmas tree, they are leading me onward towards Home.

Thanks be to God for simple signs and wonders.