How do you approach the holiday season? I have to confess I approach December with feelings of anticipation, eagerness, joy … and also incipient feelings of being overwhelmed, apprehension, and exhaustion. These latter feelings usually start the day after Thanksgiving when my mind starts jumping from upcoming tasks like a grasshopper leaping from blossom to blossom, but my mind keeps landing on crabgrass that becomes another task that must be done. So this year I decided things would be different.
Okay, so I did streamline the decorating and the gift giving, but every time I thought everything was under control, I would find another patch of crabgrass that needed tending. Then came a marathon day that included shopping, lunch with friends, going to the gym followed by the grocery store, and finally, meeting out-of-state friends for dinner. The only good thing was that my mind was too exhausted to perseverate on the crabgrass.
The next day was another busy day, but as I was heading home around 4:00 p.m., I felt I had to get out into nature. Our home is adjacent to the Santa Monica Mountains National Park, and I had just enough time to change and get out there and get in at least two miles. In my mind I had just changed something I usually enjoy into another clump of crabgrass.
The area where I planned to hike had been partially burned by a wildfire in October.
The miracle was that during the wild Santa Ana winds, the burn was confined to around 100 acres. We were blessed with rain starting the week of Thanksgiving and ending last Sunday.
I entered the park and felt my shoulders drop and my mind clear, and I experienced a sense of peace. But that was just the beginning.
After going through the tunnel of trees out into the park, I was overwhelmed by what I saw. An almost-full moon was hanging above a mountain ridge. The previously fire-blackened hills were the most amazing tender green as new growth sprouted through the charred earth. In the fading daylight, the sky was a delicate pink fading into a pale blue. I immediately thought of the quote from Isaiah 61:3: “I will give you beauty for ashes.”
This week, we have been blessed with unexpected visits from our grown children. At the children’s Christmas musical at church, I was touched by their innocence and sweet voices—a delightful contrast to the canned carols that seem to be everywhere this time of year. We have bumped into friends and other relatives, and there is energy and joy in these meetings.
Recently, I sat down at our desk to write a few cards and looked straight out into the eyes of a red-shouldered hawk perched in our neighbor’s tree, a rare gift in our area.
Joy and peace abound in being with loved ones, in celebrations of the season, in unexpected encounters with wildlife, and in being in nature. So keep your eyes and ears open for unexpected blessings. But beware of the snare of “must do” crabgrass.
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Marcy Mary and I thank you for reading our blogs. We will be taking a short break and will resume in a few weeks.
We wish you happy holidays. May your celebrations be filled with joy, love, and unexpected blessings.