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December 19, 2010
To the Nashville airport this afternoon, thence to Memphis, and then home. With that, another year of air travel comes to its close -- no more trips until the new year. I do about thirty of these a year, and that's a lot of airports. I'll still have a bit of local running around to do in the early part of this week, but then I'll be at home for days on end.

The airports are full of people getting home -- lots of road warriors finishing up their last trips, as I am finishing mine. It will escalate all week, airports and train stations busier and busier, more and more crowded with hopeful travelers: lots of soldiers heading home on leave. Lots of babies in strollers, and lots of harried moms and dads. Old ladies in wheelchairs. Flight attendants and pilots, who manage somehow always to look dapper and fresh, no matter how long they've been in the air. Everybody is heading somewhere. Ordinarily, it's a smooth process, but one never knows: you should always plan on things going wrong, I say. That way, you're pleasantly surprised if they don't.

I have no duties today, but I didn't know for sure that would be the case when I planned this trip months ago. So I booked a flight for late afternoon, just to be safe. When I finished my work yesterday, I though I should probably go online and see if I could get an earlier flight home -- I miss Q terribly when I'm gone, miss the house, miss the cats, horrors that they can be. Perhaps I could get home before 6, if I moved some things around. But something stopped me. It is quiet here at the convent, and the country is beautiful through the large windows -- every building that can have large windows has them, here on the mountain, and why not? God did good work here in Tennessee. Everywhere you look, you see beauty. So I did not book new plane tickets. I am sitting in the sisters' library writing an eMo, emerging occasionally to look out the sunny window in their common room at the mountains neighboring this one -- mountains as far as the eye can see. I need this.

I cannot say I don't feel a twinge of guilt about it, a certain furtiveness: I am staying away from home a few hours longer by choice, not by necessity. I can't blame it on anybody else, or on my work. It's just for me, and I am too driven a person ever to be entirely comfortable with that -- an interesting personality trait in someone who travels the world giving talks that are basically all about letting go and letting God. But it's just a twinge. For once, I am taking my own advice and, twinge or no, it is good advice.

Because Advent is for me, too. It's for busy people. For people who have a hard time making room for it. People whose job it is to make it available for others. The peace and quiet of Advent is even for people who feel guilty about enjoying peace and quiet now and then. All the things I have to do will still be there tomorrow, and some of them will be even more annoying than I thought they'd be. But that's tomorrow. Not today.


Here are some photos of St. Mary's convent in Sewanee.
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