The wind is showing off it’s strange power again, slinging ice and tiny snowflakes, singing the trees, shaking and pressing whatever it can. The windows creak, perhaps even bend. I am listening, thinking of different snowstorms in my life…the glittering white stoles hugging earth and houses, so bright upon my shoulders as my wood and metal sled carves grooves behind me. Explorer and dreamer…hearty and tender: children learn much by crossing paths with winds-but winter wind! That brittle cold smarting faces, eyes streaming from the sting of it, and happiness shimmying through the blood. I am a wintered child who fell in love with all the seasons. But even now as I listen to the tossing of maples and oaks and impossibly tall pines, and the night lengthens in a landscape glazed with treachery of ice—even tonight, winter’s spirit lingers within me like a dear old friend sipping cocoa and telling stories, her eyes glistening, her hair a crown of icicles.
I imagine if I saw my reflection in a still river, an iced river, there’d be snow flowers around my face, my eyes a wintered blue, my lips red as holly berries, my cheeks creased with age and happiness.
The sleet and snow slip away, leaving tuneful riverlets of water. And all the care, time, hopes and decor so merry soon merge, but then become an unexpected experience. One daughter cancels flights due to the spector of illness; my son fulfills lengthy last minute obligations. Another daughter is split between too-tender memories seeded in loss, a tradition shared with the lost one…and us parents who wait with a holding-close and many gifts. My sister arrives, then waits with her shaggy dog on her broad lap. She cannot easily– for long– suss out the meaning of Russian teacakes and fancy chocolates, of jubilant carols and a dressy tree winking in waning day’s gloom. Does she wait for the ghost of her partner or for one more explanation of why we are here? Both, both. I lean into her, tossle her white waves. We sing “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear.” Every word is remembered in her soft alto.
But there comes the youngest daughter hauling bags of goodies and family through the colder dusk. We plunge into laughter, eat too many Christmas tacos, and the little twins’ exclamations and giggles rustle the air like spangles of light tossed high. They are electric energy given flesh and soul. Love can be a net of sweet burning stars like this. Love, too, the rippling echoes between our words. And Love is Christ born with nothing but Light, helpless and bawling in a manger next to the cows and sheep, with hardship and power awaiting him. Such creatures and Divinity meeting up…I have not fogotten.
But my family looks small around the oak table this year. Longing stirs a depth with few limits… for a moment. How can I seek more when abundance is so great? I take hands closest to me and squeeze lightly. And return squeezes pulse through the circle. I am inexplicably gifted with this. Too many are not.
And then there are none inhabiting the day but the two of us, husband, such an old friend, and me.
The house draws into itself; a multitude of candles flicker yellow and bright, cast dancing halos onto the table, walls. They soften the over-full mind and rich air. A heater that masquerades as woodstove emits more warmth as I watch through windows. Gathering night is opaque until a distant glimmer spreads, coloring a distance beyond the mountains. The bird seed on our balcony overlooking more pines has been pecked and eaten.Where do the hummingbirds go as arctic wind sweeps the tree branches? They will return in the morning, hungry, knowing they’ll be fed.
Nothing nurtures more wholeness than simply living a life– in a constancy of faith, in expectancy of more affection given and received, in small amazements, a wonder that circulates in breath and blood. I am a being known and cared for; I was given a name that someone calls out even if I am not listening well. I have to do nothing important, only stay true to what resonates within me, practice kindess and courage. Keep on.
And so it is the eve of an impending new year. I imagine it’s causing a hullabaloo in far-flung locations even now. Here? A cooling mocha in hand, anticipation of leftover linguini piccata, the oddness and satisfaction of words welcomed and released, a design across blankness. A practice of intention made more meaningful.
Yes, of course, the calendar flips soon. Yet the art of leaving anything or anyone is not so hard, anymore. I remember years of intense farewells, savoring each goodbye to the previous year–relationships and projects, places and accomplishments, false starts, worn out or satiated desires, and wounds too stubborn–but it’s like gazing backward down a too-long hallway. There I went, offering roses and asking forgiveness as if it mattered so much. Was I so impressed with my life that I had to mourn and memorialize a year’s transition? As if it was a mighty ship disappearing while passing an incoming vessel that brought—well, what? One never knew. That was the tricky thing, no matter my resolve to do this or that. That part is not different than happened before: life, the great surprise as it reveals itself. Before then, we can only imagine.
I find it easier as I get older to let go of the year that is fleeing. All the sore spots and balms of pleasure; the people well or poorly loved; the dramas and inconsequential hours, and goals that ended in a heap. Why cover events again? It takes too much and means so little, in the end.
I’d rather consider traversing interior and exterior landscapes. Variations of light and shadow play tag in my mind. The moss and ferns and rocks and waters. And moving among birds: Coopers hawks sskin-tingling calls, waiting for the eagle pair to hunt. The hummers that have hovered long and steady right before my eyes, one of which greets me daily. The secret lives of so many bugs. The slinky worms and shy butterflies. You know–this prowess of nature right beyond the door.
Three new friends were discovered this year!– just as we each needed. As I had longed for during the loneliest bits. Now, coffee and croissants; river walks; book and music and a spattering of health talk. Sharing as if we knew each other longer, better. The plain wisdom of trust. We jump in because it feels worth it.
The, too, helping create countless pictures with glue, glitter and sparkly pipe cleaners and markers: the genius of two 3 and 1/2 year olds’ ingenuity, what a joy. The relief of their lack of self-judgment or of others. They are at one with their feelings, and I marvel at it. My legs have been tugged and ringed with hugs as I cannot now get down on my knees–until one is fixed.
There have been stunning heartbreaks that have changed my very thoughts and actions; I pray them back to God. The wild and curated beauty have pulled me into sudden revelations, warmed my soul until all was bright once more. Human healing never quite ends whether body or spirit. And how fortunate that is so–we are made to utilize restorative processes, some unconscious.
But wait, I am beginning to fall prey to taking stock when I would rather move on. So this is a simple goodbye to this year as it slips into another, per the calendar. And it’s anybody’s guess what it will bring.
This year’s map for me is a schemata in pencil: there are notable events in January, particularly, but I can erase and alter to an extent. Right now it points to The Knee Surgery to fix a three-times-torn meniscus plus surprising if moderate arthritic wear and tear. And the work toward recovery, then hearty pain-free walking and hiking, once again–at last. I keep telling myself that so much cannot hinge on a right knee repair, yet it does. I am a restless person. Moving at will is central to many delights and fulfillment. I have not given up the hope of more ice skating, even a lazy circle around a rink. Of climbing a gnarly path a good seven to ten miles, wherever I choose to go. An enthusiatic wiggle and pivot and shuffle with snappy fingers to rhythmic music. Surrendering to this circumstance has been a struggle over the last twelve months. It is surprising how one’s deeper personal power can be accessed with less ranting and thrashing about.
The wind spirit is almost quiet tonight, as if letting the rest of nature recover. The chilling winter rains have swollen our rivers so that a few slip over impotent banks. Sodden earth has unhinged many trees, branches strewn artlessly. I am so tied to rains here that, even when it falls, I listen to it on an “app”–which states that rainstorms recorded at Stonehenge. Well, whatever it is, such downpours soothe me as I sink and rise in dreams.
This is not the winter of my greater dreams, nor of my childhood. It is the winter of this moment. I do reside within it like a welcome visitor. I smooth a worn, woolen gold-woven throw over my lap and sip the sweet and slightly bitter mocha. Let the world celebrate tonight if it can. I no longer feel an urge to dance madly in the streets; that already happened a few times– it may happen again. But tonight I will be listening to Villa-Lobos’ “Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5”. It is gorgeous, enigmatic, goes right to the heart. Then a few pages of a new murder mystery set in Tuscany. Another inconsequential episode of daily life, a good night–no matter which year it is. After all, much of what we see is what we are looking for, isn’t it? I am searching for more goodness and illumination.
I send to all my good wishes for a more peaceful New Year. May your worries be far less than your wonderment.