December 3: An assembly line of elves helped me move the Christmas boxes out of the attic. But I alone unpacked each ornament; the sparkling tree would be a Christmas surprise when my family got home from work. And decorating was a joy for me. I had once asked Jeremiah to help me write down the story of each brass or glass bauble. Today, as I carefully found the perfect perch for each ornament, I thought of all the places they celebrated, the friends who gave them, and the two little boys who chose ornaments each year with wide eyes and wonder. Now, when I walk past those shimmering memories, I say from my heart, “Hello, you beautiful tree.”
December 4: I stepped from the doors of a glorious old church into the sunshine. A community of church, family, neighbors and friends had just celebrated the life of a young woman who, in a life of grace and service, embodied all that is good. I came away inspired to follow her example. And I thought: let us celebrate right now the lives of those around us, let us find inspiration in their gifts and service, and let us be an inspiration in return. Anna taught us that one kindness may not change the world but it will add grace and goodness to the universe and be a blessing in ways we will never know.
December 5: The choir, in rich full voice, processed up the center aisle. For this majestic service of Advent Lessons and Carols, even the smallest choristers joined their voices. In miniature black robes, they held their own sheet music and added their own touches, especially a wiggle or two up there in the nave. When the children sang, “The desert will rejoice and blossom as a rose,” one youngster gave voice for all of us when she practically shouted at the end Exsultate, jubilate Deo!
December 6: During my walk today, I crossed paths with a golden retriever, which proudly carried a stick as thick as its nose and as long as its body. I passed another dog, smaller this time, but with another mighty stick. The sticks must have been in fine flavor today, for in the last stretch of woods, I encountered a toy poodle, proudly balancing a twig.
December 7: I place my laptop below the dome of the Library of Congress. It rises 125 feet above me, supported by eight arches, eight columns, and eight demi-lune stained glass windows. Stone cornices in the shape of shells hold a small round fresco at the dome’s apex. And below that a circular fresco salutes Judea, Islam, Greece, Italy, and eight other cultures. On all eight sides, heroic black-bronze statues hover over balcony railings fifty feet high, clustered in bays dedicated to art, philosophy, science, law, history, commerce, religion and poetry. On ground level, desks in three concentric circles radiate from the center with alcoves of books tucked under eight arches. Behind me (I’m sitting between “poetry” and, aptly, “law”) are the Oxford Handbook of Medieval Philosophy and, nearby, the Cambridge History of Medieval Philosophy, ready for me to find the difference. The sun streams in, touching with majesty the seven quiet scholars here. And it touches me, proud holder of a shiny new Reader Card to one of the greatest libraries in the world.
These photos are of the Great Hall of the Library of Congress where, at 3:45 pm on a Tuesday, I was the only visitor. Photography was not permitted in the Reading Room, but that link will show you what my words tried to describe.
December 8: On my way back from the Library of Congress yesterday, I walked in the bright chilly afternoon to the U.S. Botanic Garden, which planted its holiday train display outdoors this year. I didn’t have little boys with me today, so I had to gape and giggle for all three of us. A very easy task, and I wasn’t alone. A small boy squirted around the display toward me. “It’s coming! It’s coming out of the tunnel,” he exclaimed. He and his sister ran toward the train weaving among live plants and lovely tableaux. “It’s going! It’s going!” And off they dashed to follow its lead.
Bonus: I asked Jeremiah to help me select my two best pictures from the Botanic Garden. (That was also my sneaky way of showing him Thomas the Tank Engine.) Because he couldn’t decide either, Jeremiah, that wonderful Christmas elf, taught me how to create a link to my photos using Imgur. If you want to rumble quickly through more trains — and see the depictions of agriculture around the world — just click here: Holiday Trains at the U.S. Botanic Garden.
December 9: I tend to “go in hard” in everything I do, even yoga. (Sigh.) So as I enter a shape, I try to remind myself to release the clench of my jaw or ease the intensity of my effort. I’ve developed a bit of mantra: “I am the possibility of … softness.” And for that moment I inhabit softness. Today, rising high from a forward fold, arms reaching to the ceiling, cheekbones yearning upward, I breathed, “I am the possibility of … sunshine.” I smiled in surprise. Yes. That is possible for me today.
What about you? For one moment for one person today, are you the possibility of sunshine?
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