It is absolutely gorgeous this morning. This late fall/early winter day is warm. The sun shines. There is a slight breeze. I walk fast, getting in some exercise and getting out the toxins. This time is a gift from my husband. Who needs flowers when I’m given time? It’s more precious than anything else at this stage in life. My husband has given it ungrudgingly: my sick, tired, stressed-out, husband. Some things say love more clearly than others.
As I stride through the beauty of this morning, the stress that has been weighing me down more and more heavily this week falls into perspective. My arms swing in rhythm with my steps, my breath. I love living in this village. In twenty minutes, only one vehicle passes me. I can hear the doves hoarsely cooing, the cows a mile away, the redneck punk-truck revving its engine across town. At home, I know my children and husband are cleaning house. The low sun glowing against the dark clouds creates vibrant color where I know there will be only dinginess later.
I step over the frozen mud, watching the intricate designs made by vehicle tires yesterday when the mud was liquid, not solid. This feels like March. I should be looking for robins, I think. Instead, it is the last day of November. There’s a lot more winter to come yet. Suddenly, out of the loveliness, floating from a dead-looking poplar, I hear a robin chirping! The robins left two months ago. I look up and see – a pair of starlings. Amongst other snippets of bird songs comes the unmistakeable chirp of a robin.
Advent – the time in the Christian year when we remember Jesus’ birth and look for the coming of Christ again. We call him Immanuel, God-With-Us, but I do not see him. But out of the oddness and dreariness of everyday living, I am startled by a sudden vision of Christ: the hospitality of friends, warmth and concern from a telesurveyor, an unlooked-for display of good manners from my tired and cranky children, green lights all the way when I’m late, the grace and forgiveness from loved ones when I screw up.
Advent – the presence of a robin in the guise of a starling.