"Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage." Psalm 84:5


i'm getting a head start on one of my usually unfulfilled new years resolutions - partly because a brand spanking new ymca has recently been constructed twenty minutes from my house, and partly to head off the rush of newbies come january second. they set you up in the computer system that keeps track of how much energy you're exerting and such, they're open all sorts of odd hours, they have a NURSERY, and when the weather outside is frightful, i can sit in the big white tiled hot tub...lovely. i can't take it all too seriously, though...today i gave swimming laps my best shot, and when it was over i went to log it into Fitlinxx, where i was informed that i had just burned eighty calories. great! after which i went out to my car, threw my bag on the passenger seat, and took a granola bar our of the glove box...and looked at the label. 230 calories. i decided right then and there to never (not this decade anyway) become an obsessive calorie counter, scale frequenter, or workout queen. if it's not fun, to me, there's just no point.


i put up a mass of christmas lights this year. lights in the kitchen, lights in the kids room, seven or eight long strands of lights wound around the christmas tree alone...and no ornaments yet. it shines like a new yellow moon at night, twinkles like a prickly green sky replete with glitter stars during the day. i put the old creche up, the one i stared at for what now seems hours when i was small...the rough italian made figures still giving me a warm feeling as i placed the sheep behind the shepherds, the wise men in a line approaching, the babe who turned out to be God under the wonderous gazes of his unworthy earthly parents. the simple wooden stable, the angels balancing atop, the wrinkled brown donkey that reminds us of what an uncomfortable ride a very pregnant mary endured to get to that unwelcome inn. the art deco stained glass angel was set on the top shelf of the bookcase to watch over us for this season, hands welded together in prayer for our well being...or something. a basket of cinnamon and pinecones, a red bowl of silver bells, the christmas books and music brought out into the open to be enjoyed another year. the things i bought on clearance after the holidays last year and packed right away opened like new gifts. i love the familial warmth, traditional securities, browns and reds and forest greens of Christmas...i love the sermons that weave into our imaginations what it was really like for the players in the great cosmic drama that night so long ago...and how close that same saviour from then can be to us here and now. enjoy this time, relax in it. give what you can, whenever you can; remembering that the giving God did has opened our eyes at least enough to see need, to want to cover the cold out there with a soothing warm glow. run into the arms of light and love this season, let your little light shine, and watch the flicker of flame in your own life spread like wildfire so that your joy becomes complete and your cup runs over.

merry advent, happy first week of Christmas to you.