The world is whirling past as I sit here in my upper room, a square of window my companion. For the past several months, it’s been me whirling and I’ve not had much time for this companionable time just watching. This morning, conscious of having time to stop and sit, I looked out to see silver-white clouds dashing northward across a fresh blue sky and an airplane flying southward like a silver arrow through clouds to some target I can only surmise. A stray browned oak leaf whirls past in a wind-gust. And tree tops, light and feathery and freed of their burden, dance like a troupe of upside down ballerina legs on the sky, swaying to a song I cannot hear.
I am gifted by beauty, by quiet, by time.
A little booklet, “Advent Meditations from the Works of Henri J.M. Nouwen” sits by my side. From Monday, First Week of Advent, he writes about a meeting an old professor at Notre Dame who said, “I have always been complaining that my work was constantly interrupted until I slowly discovered that my interruptions were my work.”
Each year when I read this meditation, I am reminded again of my own need to learn how complaints are my work. This fall, I’ve complained of being too busy, of being too tired, usually adding that life has also been filled with all kinds of gifts during this busy time – a book contract, working on a film, travel. And yet, the complaining, even if silent and to myself, seems to come more often than recognizing I had something to learn from the experience of weariness.
Nouwen goes on, “when we believe that patience can make our expectations grow, then fate can be converted into a vocation, wounds into a call for deeper understanding, and sadness into a birthplace of joy.”
Last evening I read a Facebook post from a poet-friend, Judith Bader Jones. She said she was clearing her calendar for the season to write poetry and bake cookies. Sounds like a plan.
Our tree is up, lights on the windows, and the semester coming to an end. If I grow tired in the coming weeks, I’ll practice understanding instead of impatience. I’ll practice watching and waiting for the rebirth of light.
The Creator of the Universe comes to us in these small ways – a dancing tree, a swaying leaf, a moment for reflection.
I offer those same small gifts to you.