Friday, November 30, 2018

becoming storytellers... and advent

I have another series to add to my advent collection - Steve Bell's Pilgrim Year. It will join others on my coffee table and beside the Christmas tree... and this morning I simply have his companion song "May It Be Done" in my earbuds on repeat.

Randy brought our tree home yesterday - cold, tight and tied up. We balanced it in the tree stand and poured warm water into the well.  Over the evening its branches settled into their well tended shape and started filling the room with the scent of balsam. We'll decorate sometime in the next few days. 

Each year there are new stories to add to our family - new adventures, new struggles, travels and friendships.  And each year there are stories not told - my son travelling through Egypt has given me snippets and snapshots of his days, but I look forward to sitting across the table from him and hearing the stories pour out. 

I love stories.  I love well-told stories.  I love gut-wrenching true stories that shape us.  I love stories of redemption.  I love stories that children tell, and the ways they tell them.  I love the stories that intersect with Jesus, and shift and change in that intersection.  I love the opportunity of Advent to tell the stories of faith to another generation.  I love the way Advent helps us to become storytellers, rather than deferring to the professionals.  These stories become more familiar each year, and they shift and shimmer as we journey through our lives, so that different parts of the story shine differently through the lens of each year's events. 

I am gaining respect for storytellers who are not afraid of a story that is in process. Telling a story, letting the story heal. Telling a story while unsure of how the story will end ... letting the telling of the story reveal the healing.  I am used to carefully sculpted, scripted story telling so that I can control what I say, and what I reveal.  There is a beautiful, vivid color and courage to stories still at work in people's lives. 

What do we do with a story that is not yet done, that is not done shaping us, not done finding resolution, not done intersecting with our Creator and Savior? 
Advent is about waiting - even though we know that actually the event we "wait for" has already happened.  We count the days to Christmas, and we long for the story to resolve in our own lives.  So Advent can become a rehearsal, and walking with the wise men following their star, walking with Mary as she lives out the consequences of her "yes" to the angel, walking with Joseph as he stumbles through a commitment that he does not understand, walking with shepherds, blinded in the night by a strange announcement...

Friday, November 23, 2018

traveling library 2

My mom talked about reading books over and over again as a child.  She talked about pretending that she had not read the books before, could not remember the endings, so that she could be surprised.  

I have lately wondered about those books of mom's.  How did those books get to her?  How many books?  What kind of boxes carried these books to children who were living in Saskatchewan in the 30's and 40's?  WHICH books did she read?  And why did I never ask mom when she was here to be asked??  So I have begun to ask questions of libraries ... in Beechy and Herbert, and to ask questions of friends.  The answers are beginning to come, but in the meantime I've been wondering, and writing about what might have happened when my mom was little, and loved to read. 

As soon as the snow began to cover the dirt, the wind would tear across the field to toss it aside till the brown showed through again. She watched the hare take off across the field, only movement giving it away.  The white fur was overtaking brown of his coat, matching the earth's shifting colors.  The road would likely disappear under the snow by morning.

She kept her eye on the horizon where the road vanished over the hills, waiting for the horses to appear.  It was a game to try to figure out how far away things were on these prairies.  Things that traveled along the road were unfairly easy to judge, as they knew that journey well.  The hills were nothing majestic, but they played on her horizon.  From the north side there was a sudden rise against the sky and she could see the line of the land shift upward.  Standing on the side of the hill facing east showed her the waves of prairie rolling away for ever.

If the books came from that direction, she would eventually see a speck heading towards her.  Steadily it would grow larger till she could see which horse was pulling the cart on its round. If the books were coming from town, the horse would just pop over the hill, almost in her neighbor's yard.

The horse popped into sight today - the dark head bobbing as she pulled the cart with six large wooden boxes.  As the boxes were pulled onto the yard she and Helen pulled on their boots, wrapped their winter jackets around their shoulders, and flew out the door. 
"Did you like those?" the driver asked as she handed back the books from his last visit.  
"Yes. Oh yes."
No choosing this time.  She was working her way through the rows of books - letting the library choose what order she read.  She had discovered that the books she loved eventually came back to her, and the books she read while waiting for her favorites were at least a doorway from this little house.  Colder weather had begun to close them all in for the winter months.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

traveling library

She ignored the rising disappointment, lifted her chin and looked again at the row of titles on the worn books.  She had been waiting for these boxes all week, had long ago finished the two books she had picked the last time the books came around.  There were no new ones here.  She had read every one before.

She closed her eyes and reached out. Blindly took one with her right hand, and one with her left. Once she had pulled them loose she saw that she was going to the island.  Anne with an e.  And one with horses.

Today she would head for the hay loft.  The turkey was occupied in the far corner of the pen, so she cut across the yard and ducked into the dusky light of the barn. Her books tucked securely under her arm, she swung herself up the ladder as she heard her name called from the house.

She had finished washing the bedding, she thought.  Maybe not.  Her mother would eventually find
her. But in the meantime she settled into the hay, running her fingers across the cover and quickly leafed through the familiar pages.  Then resolutely counted backwards from 10 ... 4  3  2  1.
Corralled the memories of this book into the back pasture of her mind and was ready to pretend she had never read the book before.

These books were her window onto the world, a passageway through the dusty summers and long cold winters.