Discernment, The Inner Landscape


It’s icing outside.

I hear the ice hitting the windows and feel relieved to be inside.

The technical definition, according to Weather.Com is "light freezing rain," but I prefer to say ice.

Our tree, decorated, stands by a window, and the ice is just on the other side of the glass. The tree is inside, the ice outside, and I am somewhere else in my mind but pulled back by the tapping of sharp drops, pellets of winter on a dark, cold night.

The past three days, full of conversations and contemplations, have left me in a mood to hibernate, but Christmas is coming, and that sort of deep drawing within will not be possible. I will finish editing bulletins, and try to get ahead on sermons, and fulfill obligations and hope to find a way to get the shopping done. For the first time in many years I will watch a Christmas Pageant in which I had no hand. I will celebrate Christmas with a community for the first time and the last.

I wonder where next year will find me? We are passing into a new phase of our lives here, with no assurance that our oldest will be home next year at Christmas or even that this will continue to be our home. We are passing into a new phase of life, in which young things believe they can tell their parents what will be, and this parent does not know how to respond other than to feel shocked and hope to handle it better when the inevitable next time comes.

I think of all the years I did not spend Christmas with my parents, because I lived so far away. I hope I won’t seem as expendable to my children as they move into adulthood, although today I fear I might be.

There is something about being 25 or even 30 and thinking all the same people will always be available to you, that you will be able to stop by the same houses and drink the same eggnog no matter how many years go by.

It’s quiet outside now, although the computer tells me we are now experiencing sleet, that wetter version of the earlier ice. I’m still glad to be inside the house.

Inside my head, I hear the tapping of time and have an odd desire to freeze the thoughts in my head just where they are, in order to study them more deeply. I want a snapshot of the characters skating on the surface of the inner landscape, some waltzing gracefully and some stumbling around the edges, some racing and shouting joyfully while others struggle to do up their laces.

10 thoughts on “Ice”

  1. it’s so true that we assume the same people will always be around to celebrate with us. The first year I planned to spend Christmas in church rather than with my family, my mother was diagnosed with cancer and I booked last minute plane tickets home because I was concerned it would be her last Christmas. It was, and I’m glad I went. Now, as a pastor, though, I wish my family would come after Christmas rather than before and for–it would really make my life as a single pastor better, actually. Maybe next year…this year, I will try to be a good hostess and a good daughter and a good sister and a good pastor all at the same time, and celebrate that I have family with the means to come thousands of miles to visit.

  2. I know what you mean. The young things here tell me what will be. I do my best to take their words in knowing that they will change their minds tomorrow or next month.
    It was 76 here today. I don’t know from ice or sleet.

  3. I am finding some internal shifting of life and expectations as well my friend, and realizing how short it all feels these days. It’s as if when you hit 45, there is a true shift in perception, isn’t there? Stay warm and safe, and know that I am thinking of you.

  4. I’m with St. Casserole – it was close to 80 and air conditioning was turned on yesterday and will probably be today. Don’t know what ice and sleet is.
    We are at the same part of our lives. There will be times where we will/do share our children with other folks in their lives during the holidays. I want them ALL, but know I must share.
    Still lots of preparation to do for the holidays.

  5. ManChild has been gone two out of the three Christmases we’ve had since moving back to Snow Belt. This year will make it three out of four. I guess I became expendable to him at about age 17. Sigh…

  6. Oh, I kind of wish you hadn’t written this, lovely writing though it is, because it so fully echoes my own feelings of advance nostalgia that it was all I could do not to cry as I read about the youthful certainty that “we can stop at the same houses and drink the same eggnog” – and reflected again that this is the last of the “We always do X at St Mary’s” years…
    Hugs and love to you…and much celebration of the new chapter that revgals represents for so many of us too xxxx

  7. This is our first year with only one child home at Christmas since 1980 (when #2 arrived). Feeling very grateful for the one, but missing the others and their significant people. For financial reasons, and because spouse’s parents were much older than mine, I think we only spent four Christmases “at home” after our marriage — the last was after my mother’s death. But, it doesn’t mean I didn’t want to be there, and I’m sure that will be the case with #1 Son no matter where next Christmas finds him.

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