Sunday, December 31, 2006

New Year's Bloggalutions

Last night Fellow Traveler and I shared our lists of New Year's resolutions. It was an interesting exercise; some helpful intersections that will help us be good accountability buddies for one another, as well as some differences in theme that proved to be good discussion fodder. Some of our "stuff" involves self-care -- eating better, moving more. Some involves adding depth and breadth to our spiritual lives. Some involves getting smarter. Some involves wresting order from chaos in our living spaces.

Since it's the season for reinvention...hey, why not include my poor, neglected blog?
Here are some of of my ideas for the new year.

Consistency. I want to get back to posting every day, even if it's a short post or a link to somewhere else.

Structure. I like the idea of different themes for different days of the week -- not every single day, but little weekly touchstones, like the Friday Five.

Interactivity. Instead of posting my own Deep Thoughts all the time, I think I want to incorporate more questions into my posts, to get others involved.

Of course, as I post this I'm hyperventilating because one of my other resolutions this year was to say "no" to more commitments, not only or even primarily for my sake but for the sake of other people who wind up getting inconvenienced or disappointed when I try to do too many things at once. But I feel sorry for my blog, which I think this Christmas has languished like Charlie Brown's Christmas tree. It's not a bad little blog, really. It just needs some love.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Cody: After

"Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my closeup now..."

Friday, December 29, 2006

Friday Poetry Blogging

I dedicate this poem to the forlorn, discarded Christmas tree I saw propped against an Outer Podunkian porch, not even the day after Christmas, but Christmas Day afternoon.

A Dreamy Friday Five

Yes, I am still in the land of the living...although I'd been burning my holiday candle at both ends for the last two weeks, after which I promptly came down with a respiratory infection. (Right now I am sucking on an over-the-counter tablet that's a hearty dose of vitamin C plus some kind of homeopathic-mojo mixture of herbal essences. Because I'm on blood pressure meds my choices in cold remedies are quite limited; I didn't have a lot of faith in this particular compound, but I bought a bottle in desperation, as I was schlepping my feverish and miserable self home after falling ill at work -- but you know, it seems to have made a difference in the severity of the symptoms; that and a day in bed.)

I don't yet have the mental capacity to blog about my Christmas experiences or insights, so instead I'll play the RevGalBlogPals' Friday Five:

A dream you remember from childhood. I used to have scary dreams when I was a kid. The skeleton army from, I think, Jason and the Argonauts popped up in my dreams several times after seeing that movie. I had a recurring dream where blotches of slimy, gooey substance suddenly appeared all over the house, and touching the stuff killed you. (Wasn't this out of War of the Worlds?)

A recurring or significant dream.
I dream a lot about finding myself back in college, at my current age, in a class I had no idea I was enrolled in, about to take a test for which I am totally unprepared.

A nightmare.
I once, long ago, dreamed about the end of the world. I was in a crowd, outside, on a sunny summer day, when a huge mushroom cloud suddenly exploded against the horizon. My final thought before waking up: "Oh -- so this is how it's going to happen."

A favorite daydream.
I used to combat insomnia by engaging in virtual landscaping -- imagining a bare yard and then coming up with arrangements of plants to fill it. These days, if I daydream, it's generally about pleasant places I've been in the past year...walking the beach on Lake Michigan, or traveling through the Upper Peninsula.

A dream for the New Year.
Here is one pretty practical, unromantic dream: I want to lessen the amount of chaos in my life -- whether chaos of mind or of accumulated "stuff." What I need to do now is to quantify this in some fashion so that I can actually follow through.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Cody: Before

"Oh, I'm a lumberjack and I'm okay...I sleep all night and I work all day..."

Remember That Thou Art Dust

I'm not sure if this is a profound theological insight or just the result of goofing on too much chocolate and coffee today (my meals today have consisted of chocolate stars, coffee poured over Land O' Lakes Supreme Chocolate cocoa mix, a peanut butter patty and a coworker's Magic Cookie bars)...but how ironic is it that, two days before we celebrate the entrance of God into our enfleshed existence, my mind is consumed with thoughts of...dirt?

My house is a wreck. It looks like animals live there...which, of course, is true. My floor crunches. (Thanks in part to a little dog who, served a new brand of dog food with a variety of different flavor nuggets in it, proceeded to vigorously fling the less tasty ones in a three-foot radius around the dish.)

For the past week I have resolved, each night, to vaccuum/wash/carpet shampoo my floors. Each evening I have wound up doing other things. I've cleaned; some good elbow grease cleaning, as well as the more creative kind that involves temporarily moving stuff into the Scary Middle Bedroom Whose Door Is Always Shut.

Tonight I have no more excuses. The tree is trimmed. The presents are wrapped. The baked goods are baked. The toilet is disinfected. The pile of miscellaneous things on top of my dryer has been relocated, in pieces, to more appropriate storage areas. Furniture has been dusted.

I wonder if I should make another batch of cookies or something.

Friday Poetry Blogging

A poem in honor of all the church choirs and community choruses who have been making a joyful noise this holiday season.

A Culinary Christmas Friday Five!

Some toothsome questions from the RevGalBlogPals :

Favorite cookie/candy/baked good without which, it's just not Christmas.
That's got to be the family-recipe sour cream sugar cutout cookies. (I'll post the recipe at some future date -- they also make yummy Valentine's Day, Easter or other cookies.)

Do you do a fancy dinner on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, both, or neither? (Optional: with whom will you gather around the table this year?)
In my family, growing up, Christmas Eve dinner was more of a graze, because of the hustle-and-bustle to get to church on time...after church we'd come back to break open the stash of Christmas cookies and more cold-cutty, fingery noshes. We then had our "big" meal on Christmas Day, usually at an aunt-and-uncle's house. This year I am being swept up in Fellow Traveler's family Christmas extravaganza, which includes a Christmas Eve Mexican fiesta-style meal at her place, and a more American-traditional Christmas dinner out of town, at her sister's. (My contribution to this endeavor is going to be, unsurprisingly, cookies.)

Evaluate one or more of the holiday beverage trifecta: hot chocolate, wassail, egg nog.
I have to say that, out of the three, I love the eggnog -- that's perhaps strange for a chocolate lover to admit, but it's true. Homemade eggnog rocks the house, but I'm good with the dairy-section variety as well. Now, chocolate eggnog...

Candy canes: do you like all the new-fangled flavors or are you a peppermint purist?
I -- ahem -- believe that candy canes of any kind are best seen and not eaten.

Have you ever actually had figgy pudding? And is it really so good that people will refuse to leave until they are served it?
I have not had the pleasure of figgy pudding. I suspect that it's similar enough to mincemeat to lead me to refrain from partaking.

Bonus: Fruitcake: discuss.
My German ancestors are probably all rolling in their graves as I type this, but...I don't like candied fruit. Never have. (Citron is the worst...bleah.) I can't bear Stollen, much to the bemusement of my parents and other relatives, and I think that most commercial fruitcakes are best used to prop up the Christmas tree. However -- I have been known to take a nibble of Collins Street Bakery fruitcakes, which seem to have more cake in them, and also have mostly edible fruit therein. On the other hand, there are kinds of cake -- white spice pound cake with a generous dose of cardamom, ginger and even white pepper -- that I like, that other people probably find appalling. And so it goes.

I have been on hiatus, mostly, from blogging, simply because there is simply too much to do around here in the evenings (ever try using a laptop after making molded cookies? Not a good plan)...all may not be calm at Cold Comfort Cottage, but it's a much brighter Christmas than I could have imagined earlier this year. I'll be back more frequently after the Christmas craziness subsides.

Monday, December 18, 2006


Someone dropped a dog off at our church yesterday morning sometime before our service began.

The dog was elderly, and filthy; one eye was milky with a cataract, while the other was red and inflamed; tumors hung from her belly, and one was angry and ulcerated. She could barely move; she lay shivering on the ground.

This is one of those times when my intellectual appreciation for the principle of nonviolence goes right out the window. If the owner of the dog had been standing there, I would have kicked his ass. And, actually, that sentiment was expressed by several of us, this week before the arrival of the Prince of Peace.

Our friend M, a dog lover, stood weeping over the animal while a few of the parish teenagers debated taking the dog home. Finally M wrapped the dog in a blanket and carried her into her vehicle, while Fellow Traveler moved M's dog, an exciteable border collie pup, into our dog-intensive Jeep.

There was a suspicion that a certain chaotic household at the end of the road was the dog's home. M and Fellow Traveler drove there; the homeowner denied that the dog was his, but a next-door neighbor told them that it was. But there was nothing that could be done; they came back, where the service had already begun, with the sick old dog still in M's car.

After church, we (plus our dogs, plus M's dog) followed M back to her house, a meandering trek that took us way into another county. There we let our pets run off their nervous energy while M and I alternately coaxed and pulled the moribund dog into a dog crate lined with blankets, with water and food. M was going to call her county's animal control office and try to get someone to come there that day and put the dog down in a humane way.

I have to say, I don't know what to do with situations like this. What pathology makes people want to possess an animal, yet neglect an animal to this degree? Even if cost were an issue -- in our county people are charged for dropping off a pet to be euthanized -- in the rural area around our church there are plenty of farmers and hunters with a .22 handy who would have helped the dog take the long walk in a quick and relatively painless way. But no.

Fellow Traveler told the weeping M that at least the dog's last hours would be spent with kind, caring people, and that that was something.

Friday, December 15, 2006

A Christmastastic, Cinematic Friday Five

It's a Wonderful Life--Is it? Do you remember seeing it for the first time?

I may be stoned for saying this...but, like the original reviewers, I despise this far as I'm concerned, enduring the lame-o dialogue is like listening to fingernails scritching on a chalkboard. Please...give me Ralphie and his quest for a BB gun. Or even the Walton kids.

Miracle on 34th Street--old version or new?
I'm steeling myself for a few more rocks...but I dislike this film as well. But if I had to sit through one version or the other, I'd have to go with the original version.

Do you have a favorite incarnation of Mr. Scrooge?
Alastair Sim, hands down...although George C. Scott made a pretty good Scrooge as well. I'd love to see John Thaw, of Inspector Morse fame, take a turn as Ebenezer.

Why should it be a problem for an elf to be a dentist? I've been watching Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer for years now, and I still don't get it.
Speaking as someone with a permanent retainer that causes much grief for my own dental professionals, I'd think that an elf's tiny fingers would have the necessary size and dexterity to do a really good job with a variety of oral health procedures.

Who's the scariest character in Christmas specials/movies?
The Bumble
The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, Muppet Version
That Mean Magician Who Tries to Melt Frosty
Your Nomination

Lucy and Violet "advising" Charlie Brown while he's trying to direct the Christmas play in A Charlie Brown Christmas. If I were Charlie Brown, I'd join poor George over on the bridge, contemplating the one-way polar bear dive. (And when the Lucys and Violets of the world grow up they get even scarier.)

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Bethlehem Meets Dr. Seuss

I bought this creche from a an old Outer Podunk retail institution when it went out of business last year...the stylized design reminded me of my elderly neighbors when I was a kid, a kindly couple with what to me was an amazing house -- filled with a fascinating assortment of household kitsch including a ceramic black panther with green glass eyes up on the mantel and, at this time of year, an aluminum Christmas tree with a color wheel.

Anyway, this Nativity set reminded me of them, and of that era, and I'm very slowly assembling it in my living room as Advent progresses.

But -- is it just me, or do you kind of expect Cindy Lou Who to come running out from behind this stable?

You'd Better Not Pout...

"It isn't even Christmas vacation yet, and we already need a vacation from Christmas!"

Friday, December 08, 2006

Friday Poetry Blogging

I mentioned this song in my Friday meme...considering this coming Sunday's Advent readings, which touch on the paradoxical peace of God that is no peace, this is a poignant reminder of why we need to be, as Bruce Cockburn and Bono sing, kicking at the darkness -- the darkness of war and bigotry and injustice and want -- until it bleeds the daylight of God's Reign:

"Christmas in the Trenches" by John McCutcheon.

Friday Five, Christmas Carol Edition

This week's RevGalBlogPals Friday Five is all about Christmas indulge in a cup of cocoa with an Altoid chaser, and join me in pondering:

A favorite 'secular' Christmas song:
For me it's a toss-up between "The Christmas Song" and "I'll Be Home For Christmas."

Christmas song that chokes you up (maybe even in spite of yourself--the cheesier the better):
It isn't cheesy, but "Christmas in the Trenches," John McCutcheon's song about the World War I Christmas truce where English and German soldiers climbed out of their trenches and met on the battlefield to celebrate the holiday together before going back to the carnage of warfare, makes me boo-hoo every time; it's actually making my eyes water even thinking about it. Another non-cheesy song that makes me a little misty, I think simply because of the melody: "Lo, How a Rose is Growing"; ditto "Once in Royal David's City" -- both the sweet voices of the child sopranos who often sing the first line, and the "big ending" when the choir and congregation and organ and other instruments all join together. Okay -- this one is just a touch cheesy: Mario Lanza belting out "O Holy Night."

Christmas song that makes you want to stuff your ears with chestnuts roasted on an open fire:
So many little time..."Jingle Bell Rock" -- I think more because of the mind-numbing repetition in every Muzak-drenched public space than because of the song itself, which is fairly innocuous; "Do You Hear What I Hear?", which drips with lounge-lizard Cheez-Whiz ("Now, I hope this next song means as much to you as it does to me..."); most of the Christmas fare on the average country-music station.

The Twelve Days of Christmas: is there *any* redeeming value to that song? Discuss:
Well, I remember, as a young poultry grower, once trying to find out what kind of hen a "French hen" actually it was educational. I know that this song is thought by some to be a kind of encoded Roman Catholic catechism that originated back in the days of Cromwell, but I admit to not really picking up on the metaphors...which I guess makes it a pretty good code.

A favorite Christmas album: That's hard. At the risk of being stuck firmly in my NPR-listening, Barnes and Noble shopping, cappucino-sipping rut, I enjoy George Winston's "December" album and the Windham Hill Christmas compilations. Anything by the St. Olaf or Kings College choirs. Familiar Christmas carols rendered by classical musicians. Any Christmas album with Frank Sinatra or Rosemary Clooney on it. I love Sarah MacLachlan's and James Taylor's new Christmas albums. And I kind of dig world-beat Christmas albums. I like Hannukah music too. Come to think of it, I'm pretty much describing standing inside a Barnes and Noble and listening to the canned holiday music.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

The Science Kit

I was way excited today when I got home. Because when I opened my mailbox I found a science kit.

It's not for me. It's for a kid whose name I drew from the community Angel Tree. These are children from families who are clients with the local Department Human Services, or who have been referred to the community Christmas program by concerned others.

My kid is five years old. I don't know her name, but I know she wants a science kit and a beading kit. I like that; a well-rounded child, even at five. I also suspect that, in this community -- which happens to be my hometown -- she is not going to get a lot of support for her budding interest in science, either at school or at home.

When I was five years old, the thing I wanted most of all at Christmas was a science kit -- one of those humongous kits from Sears or Penney's or Monkey Ward that contained a real microscope and test tubes and minerals and pickled animals and all manner of fascinating materials for conducting experiments. Oh, how I wanted one of those science kits. I circled them in crayon in the Christmas catalogs. I'd show them to my parents -- ever the diplomat, I'm told that instead of declaring, "I want that," I'd obliquely murmur, "Should I have that?"

But I never got a science kit. I got other things I wanted -- the mack-daddy Crayola set with 100 crayons; the Spirograph; a bike; lots of animal books. I also got a lot of things I didn't want -- a creepy life-size doll that reminded me of the Twilight Zone episode about malevolent talking dolls, that went directly to the attic to live; another doll that was eventually relieved of its hair and its limbs as I wavered between imaginary careers as a hairdresser and a surgeon; a tea set that wound up lost in the chaff in our hay barn after I used it to feed the cats; board games, which are fairly useless to an only child. But no science kit ever appeared under the tree.

Several years ago, during a round of holiday reminiscing, I cautiously broached this subject with my mother. "I don't get it," I said. "It wasn't about the money, because you spent as much on other presents."

My mother looked uncomfortable. "We didn't think you really wanted one," she finally answered.

"What do you mean, you didn't think I wanted one?" I exclaimed in disbelief. "What about my waving marked-up Christmas catalogs in your face from the day they came in the mail until Christmas Eve?"

Mom winced. "We didn't know any other children who had science kits."

"What about my cousin the brain, who had a pickled deer embryo in a jar on his dresser for years? I bet he had a science kit."

"Your aunts," Mom sighed, "thought that you should get dolls for Christmas because you were a girl and because you didn't have any brothers or sisters and they thought you would be lonely."

"You listened to your in-laws instead of listening to me?" I asked incredulously...although I could imagine my imposing, frowny-faced and hopelessly conventional Teutonic relatives gradually hectoring my sometimes unconventional mother into submission.

"We just didn't know any better back then."

So this is kind of a personal thing for me. When I saw the tag on the tree, I knew it was my tag, as if God had personally pressed it into my hand and said, "Here -- this is your kid to help."

And I did. I found this science kit, that makes rainbow crystals and other fun stuff; I found another kit for growing a cactus garden; I found a picture dictionary, and a bird book, and a "fun with math" game, and a little kit for making sun prints, and a tin filled with colorful beads. I threw in crayons and a coloring book. "Brimful and spilling over" is the bag of my five-year-old's Christmas presents.

Fellow Traveler has a tag too, and we spent part of last weekend finding things for her kid, who's eight years old and tiny and wants art supplies and things to wear. We found a great artist's kit with lots of stuff in it at a Large Mallish Bookstore, and some kickin' clothes, even though our expertise in tiny girls' sizing leaves something to be desired. This child's bag is overflowing as well.

Everyone should do this at least once -- be a secret shopper for some kid who'd otherwise have a bleak Christmas. I can't adequately describe to you how much fun this is. The experience is the exact opposite of the stress and resentment involved in searching for "contractual obligation" Christmas presents; I'd perhaps go so far as to say that it's a tiny, tiny taste of God's extravagant love and grace. And we get to help.

And in my case -- the case of the science kit that will wind up under a five-year-old girl's Christmas tree -- I can't help but feel that, somewhere, a cosmic equation has finally balanced.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The View From Fundastan

Having just made a brief and admittedly ill-considered excursion into Fundastan, courtesy of Beliefnet, I have just two things to say:

1. If I thought about sex half as much as the fundamentalists I encounter online, I wouldn't have time to do anything else. They're like weasels in heat. And the really sick thing is...they seem to want to mostly think about my sex. (The feeling is not mutual.)

2. Dan Erlander, in his excellent booklet Baptized, We Live: Lutheranism As a Way of Life, in speaking about Jesus' absolute trust in God, notes:
We live by trust and not by certitude. Not knowing if our actions will produce the best results, we boldly act and then boldly trust God's forgiveness if we are wrong...we trust that God is good, that God means us well. We even face death, the end of our striving, clinging only to the promise we believe -- God is good. Until death we obey, even if we see no results. We trust that God will bring the shalom.
My interactions with fundamentalists and their theological kinfolk lead me to think that they don't trust that God is good and means them well. I don't think they trust that at all. Their attitude -- toward God, toward other people, toward their own enfleshed existence -- leads me to believe that they believe God's default attitude toward creation in general and human beings in particular is one of contempt and disgust. Their belief that God afflicts human beings with pain and suffering either as punishment or in order to somehow spin the situation into a means for self-promotion creates an image of what someone on a Beliefnet forum described as a "de Sade God."

If anyone ever needed to be evangelized it's these folks, because the news they perceive in the witness of Scripture isn't good news at all -- they've twisted it into very bad news. But I don't have either the temperment or the vocabulary to engage with fundamentalists. I just can't do it. They make me crazy. Keeping my distance from them feels like a defeat for me, but I don't have a better solution for dealing with them.

Monday, December 04, 2006

"I'm So Happy I Can't Stop Crying"

That Sting song came to mind yesterday as I was rolling out sugar cookies...sugar cookies that I am going to have to frost with extra icing, I think, because some of them will have an odd saline aftertaste.

When we got to church yesterday morning -- a church all bright and expectant in Advent blue, with our sanctuary Christmas tree festooned in white and gold chrismons and ribbons -- we found out that my pastor's spouse's father had died overseas, after a long illness and a final visit that hadn't gone the way one would have wished. Having gone through this myself with my mother -- the delirium and confusion and belligerance of her last day on this earth, and her passing before I could get to the hospital -- I felt myself overcome with sadness. And the juxtaposition of this sadness with the visual cheer of the church sanctuary, the laughing and chattering of the kids and the old hymns of Advent longing and just got to me. I found myself weeping all the way through the service, and in offering my condolences to my pastor and his spouse, and much of the way home, and most of the way through my cookie baking.

After passing through my first parentless Thanksgiving relatively calmly and cheerfully, I'm finding that this pre-Christmas season is going to be hard; very, very hard. I thought that keeping busy and focused on other people would keep these feelings at bay...well...not so much.

A Botanical Conundrum

No, this isn't an Edelweiss. It is a flower that I encountered on my vacation last summer, while we were stopped at a roadside nature preserve on Lake Huron between St. Ignace and Hessel. Because of my digital camera woes, I was only recently able to recover this photo from my card.

I like to think of myself as a fairly competent amateur botanist, so the mystery of this flower has been bothering me for five months now.

The focus is a little fuzzy, and it's hard to gauge the size of the flower from the picture...but think of a buttercup or marsh marigold; the flower was similar to that in size, and maybe 10 inches tall. If you look very hard, you'll see pink veining on the petals, much like an hepatica. It was growing in the sand among the dune grasses maybe 10 or 12 feet from the water's edge.

Any specialists in Great Lakes ecology who may be reading this -- knock yourselves out. I've gone through about four regional plant identification books and haven't found anything like this.

Sunday, December 03, 2006


It was 1965. I was a little kid. My parents had taken me on a very rare excursion to another, larger city to go shopping at the Woolworth's -- a wonderful store with three whole stories of merchandise, including a pet department with real live birds and fish and turtles and small animals -- even a baby alligator.

I was magnetized to the pet department, where I slowly went from tank to tank and cage to cage gazing in amazement at the animals while my mother impatiently waited from a distance, urging me to hurry up and follow her to the home furnishings. I, of course, had no interest in home furnishings except for a fish bowl or birdcage; I lingered with the pets as long as I could, then unhappily turned to follow my mother down the aisle to look at curtains or pillowcases or some other dry goods of interest to adults.

But I didn't stay there. The pull of the pet department was too strong -- the noisy, friendly budgies who cocked their heads at me in an appealing way; the flashy tropical fish; the droll, sleepy guinea pigs and frenetic hamsters; the tiny, yet menacing, yet strangely fascinating baby alligator.

At some point I looked up and realized that my mother was no longer in sight. Where was she? I went back down the aisle where we'd been last and turned the corner; no Mom. I walked down the side aisle, looking down the rows of aisles; strange adults looked back at me in what seemed to me to be an unfriendly, annoyed way. I started to panic. The store suddenly seemed very, very big, and I seemed very, very small inside it. I didn't know where I was. I didn't know where my parents were. I began to cry, until a kindly clerk finally found me and delivered me to my mother, who had in turn noticed that I was missing and had been frantically looking at me at the other end of the store.

It's funny how you can be 46 years old (give or take a few weeks) and still feel like someone very, very small, caught in a very, very big, hostile world. No matter how attractive the distractions, no how adept we are or think we are professionally or interpersonally...most of us have had more than one sleepless 2 a.m. when we've felt every bit as frightened and disempowered and overwhelmed by the stuff of life as a little child lost in a department store.

The messages we hear in our readings today, while written for specific people in specific situations in place and time, ring across time and space for us. They say, Look up. See the signs. You are not lost.

God always comes down. And as Jesus points out in today's Gospel lesson, the place where we feel the most disoriented, the most anxious, the most oppressed, the most in want, the most disheartened, is the place where God is most near. Some Christians proclaim themselves "Easter people"; that may be so, but we are also Advent people -- people who, in the midst of the worst that the powers and principalities can throw at us, can see God's presence and saving power at the ready.

This is the season where many of us feel as if we're in the midst of Vanity Fair -- the noise and bling and shill of the Christmas season, which seems to descend on us earlier and more rgently each year. It's also a season when hardship and sorrow come to dwell with many of us -- sickness and death, job layoffs, financial stresses, our annual personal inventory of losses and defeats. Even those of us who count ourselves fortunate may feel our guts being wrenched by stories of war and want and injustice elsewhere. Like the Psalmist, we find ourselves praying, "How long, o Lord?"

The message of the Gospel is not that we will somehow magically avoid or finesse the problems that come with living in this world. The message is that we are not alone in our lostness and weakness -- that God is with us; that, in the person of Jesus, God is before us leading the way, and next to us as a Friend, and behind us as a Savior. The very signs that spell lost in the vocabulary of the world are the signs that remind us that we are found in Christ. And that's a good place to be.

Advent I

Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.

Friday, December 01, 2006

An Advent-urous Friday Five

It's all about Advent at the RevGalBlogPals' Friday Five this week.

Do you observe Advent in your church?
Yes and no. We have the church decked out in blue Advent paraments, and we have an Advent wreath at the front of the sanctuary that we light each week with appropriate readings, and of course we have the designated texts for the season. But we don't really do a lot with educating people about Advent, which I think is a pity.

How about at home?
I have my own Advent wreath; I usually have an Advent calendar -- this year I got one from Bronner's that has little chocolate treats behind each window; I follow the daily Advent liturgy and read other Advent-themed material. And I just try, very hard, to detach from the seasonal wackiness around me and try to make quiet spaces in my life.

Do you have a favorite Advent text or hymn?
Oh, it's got to be "O Come, O Come Emmanuel."

Why is one of the candles in the Advent wreath pink? (You may tell the truth, but I'll like your answer better if it's funny.)
Because it's the peppermint one?

What's the funniest/kitschiest Advent calendar you've ever seen?
That just might be here .

Artwork: "Winter Landscape," Carl David Friedrich