A day in Advent.
I am not sad, not exactly: I seem simply to lack energy. So I have put some extra chipotles in the chili for tonight as a step in the direction of remedying this malaise. It can't hurt, and it just might get the blues on the run. And I have to walk around Manhattan a fair amount this afternoon, which should clear out some cobwebs as well -- especially now, with the shop windows all done up for Christmas. And it is chilly today, which should get the circulation going.
Some days later.
Actually, I used too many chipotles, rendering the entire batch impossible for a person raised by an Englishman to eat. I hope the earthworms working the compost pile like spicy food. I am not depressed, I would say. On the other hand, I am still in my dressing gown and it is almost noon. But I will be on the train in a bit, and a little adrenalin can be expected to show up in time for my retreat to begin. By the grace of God, these events are always okay. More than okay. They remind me of why I am here. If only that transporter thing on Star Trek were real, and they could just beam me up to Connecticut. And if only the retreat had a slumber party theme, so I could stay in my dressing gown.
Minutes later and miles deeper.
I am not tired. I can't be -- I slept well. What I am is haunted. Two recent events, Thanksgiving dinner and yesterday's tea, haunt me: in preparation for both of these, I became testy and brusque with Q. Rude -- there is no other word. Maybe you shouldn't do this anymore, one daughter had suggested softly as I whisked the gravy on Thanksgiving Day, and I had rejected the idea at once: No, I like to do it, I said. I'm not so sure you do, she said, and then left it alone.
But what is it I like, exactly? To play with all my pretty serving things. To make the house beautiful. To plan wonderful menus. To have my family here. But if I end up scolding my husband, banishing him from the kitchen -- is that what I like? It is not.
Time was, I could work all day and put on a dinner for twenty and probably even write a paragraph or two before bed. Time was, I could swoop in and pull it all out of a hat. It was amazing. I was amazing. This is what haunts me this Advent: the fear that I am no longer amazing.
Now. Here and now. In the real world. As it really is.
It is what it is. Amazing or not, I am who I am now, whoever I used to be. There is no happiness and much despair to be found in trying to turn the clock backwards -- clocks don't run backwards. If I am to be joyful, it can only be as the person I am right now, not as the person I once was. Nor as the person I hope one day to be.
Make a plan, the other daughter said. The things you must do, the things you should do and the ones you'd like to do, if there's time. Don't think you're a failure if you can't do everything at once, as you used to. I have given similar advice to people over the years, and it has been helpful -- I know, because some have come back and told me so. Haven't followed it myself, of course. I always just relied on my amazingness.
Of course, I was never as amazing as I thought I was, even back then. Memory is a rosy lens through which to behold one's former self. It was always, at least in part, a dream of myself I saw -- even then, when all systems were go and I was firing on all cyinders. So I will make a list. We will visit my daughter's home at Christmas. It will be quiet and informal, and I will bring whatever she tells me to bring. Or nothing at all. I can do that.
Dec 16-17 Barbara Crafton visits Trinity Church, Columbus GA
Following our Wednesday night supper on December 16, the Rev. Barbara Crafton will be with us again to share her book, Mary and
Her Miracle: The Christmas Story Retold, a creative re-imagining of the Christmas Story. Then on Thursday, December 17 Barbara
will lead us in a spiritual Quiet Day from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm, including lunch. If you canít carve out the whole day, come for what works with your schedule. Come and let your imagination lead you! www.trinityepiscopalchurch.com
Christmas Eve, Dec 24
Barbara Crafton preaches at St. Luke's, Metuchen, at 11pm in this lovely 1868 Carpenter Gothic church. 17 Oak Avenue, Metuchen NJ 08840
Sunday, Dec 27 Church of the Resurrection, Hopewell Junction, NY. Barbara Crafton is preacher and celebrant. For travel directions and information, visit http://nyresurrection.homestead.com/
January 2-3, 2010 Christ Church, Binghamton, NY 200th Anniversary
The beginning of a yearlong feast of worship, music and celebration of this beautiful church, the oldest in Binghamton. Saturday night, Feast of Lights, Sunday morning, 8 and 10am. Barbara Crafton is preacher.
For directions and information, visit www.christchurch1810.org
Jan 23, 2010 Christ and St. Stephen's, New York City
Glorify the Lord, O Chill and Cold! The weather outside may be frightful, but a small green shoot of spring lies nestled deep in the heart of all that icy brown. There is no better time to ponder the glory of nature than when one is most deprived of it, and that would be January in New York City.
Snug and warm, we will look at the ways scripture talks about nature, animals, plants, farming and outer space, and perhaps emerge with a hopeful sense of our own place in God's grand scheme of things.
Hot cocoa will be provided.