Tag Archives: Time

Advent is a season of preparation

Not only do I now own a church, I own a church sign. In the first days of clean-up and demolition, my Beloved found the box of letters to create a new message in the sign so I did what I do best and that’s write.

church sign advent

Today, if you didn’t already know it, is the first Sunday in Advent, and I was inordinately pleased with myself to post this message. Its meaning applies literally to the church season and to the process of cleaning up corners and tearing down walls inside our 119-year-old Methodist church as step one in our renovation project.

In homage to the season (and the double message with new meaning for me this year), I’m reprinting this post from the Minnesota Transplant archive, publishing originally a year ago.

Glory be

While the secular world recovered from a Thanksgiving dinner-induced food coma and then leapt loopily into Black Friday-Small Business Saturday-Cyber Monday (which for many overeager online retailers began on Friday), Christians rang in a new year.

Today is the first Sunday of the liturgical year which is to say the First Sunday in Advent.

Advent is the run-up to Christmas, a liminal season of expectation. But to describe it only as a time of waiting sells Advent short, just as the days between Thanksgiving and Dec. 25 are more than simply an out-of-breath sprint to be endured.

For me, it’s not this time of year without spending some time in church. Sitting (and standing and singing and praying) through a worship service slows down time.

This is not a post about why you should go to church. That’s your call. This is a post about why I go to church. For me, Advent is the best time of year to spend some time in church, to be observant to the reason for the season. Christmas is all crowds and gifts and traditional-in-the-extreme music (let’s just say I’m not a fan of “Silent Night, Holy Night”). Lent, too, is a run-up season, preparing Christians for Easter, but Lent and Easter are solemn. The messages are heavy on crucifixion and death (yes, and rising again, I know, but rising from the tomb).

Advent, though, is news about pregnancy and babies and angels and birthdays. (That Advent also coincides with the countdown to my own birthday is just happy coincidence.)

I went to Catholic Mass last night for the first time in years, maybe even a decade. It was a beautiful quiet service in an enormous church where hundreds of people were doing the same thing I was — celebrating the new church year. I was reminded how lovely is the ritual of Mass, so familiar and universal.

I was once Catholic, but when I got divorced, I reverted to my origin religion, Lutheran. A week ago, I read the scripture lessons for the last time at the Lutheran church where I am a member. I resigned my position as reader in anticipation of moving away. Coincidentally, it was also the last Sunday of the church year.

Serendipity.

I kind of felt like I was throwing off the bonds of responsibility and the old year and the old way of worshiping all at once. Celebrating the new Christian year for me meant Mass in a big, beautiful church. Which is how I found myself last night in church I’d never been in before soaking up Bible readings about waiting and preparation and expectation.

It is the perfect message on which to meditate for a woman waiting (and waiting) to sell her house.

Advent is not an empty time, I was reminded. It is a season of fullness. Because preparing is just as meaningful as celebrating. Anticipation should be as joy-filled as the hullabaloo for which we’re waiting.

Pondering Advent and the imminent celebration of the birth of Christ, I was reminded of a scene I appreciated earlier this year.

nativity-facade

This is the Nativity Façade at the Sagrada Familia, aka the Basilica and Expiatory Church of the Holy Family in Barcelona, Spain. The church was designed by Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi. The structure is so elaborate, it has been under construction since 1882 and remains incomplete. This is the entryway to the church, and I snapped this picture when I had the opportunity to tour it in June. As you might expect, the Nativity Façade is dedicated to the birth of Jesus.

A single figure is itself a fantastic sculpture, and here there are hundreds of them. But let’s look at the central point of interest there, right above the two doorways of entry.

nativity

You can see Jesus surrounded by his mother Mary and Joseph. Check out those two faces peeking around the corners — an oxen and a donkey. Kind of cute, if you ask me. Carved into stone above Joseph’s head are the words “Gloria in excelsis Deo” (you can read Deo clearly in this closeup). That’s Latin for “Glory to God in the highest.”

This sculptured wall is the entryway to the church (inside is entirely amazing experience in itself). But before you even get inside to see it (and, presumably, participate in Mass), this enormous highly detailed art greets you. You could spend days gazing at each sculpture, taking in the meaning, and you’re still outside the building.

That’s Advent. Days of detail, building up to the threshold of Christmas.

Don’t wish it away. Soak it in.

# # #

If you’re interested in more from Minnesota Wonderer/Minnesota Transplant, don’t miss my new blog about renovating the 119-year-old church. Start reading here at ChurchSweetHome.com.

Glory be

While the secular world recovered from a Thanksgiving dinner-induced food coma and then leapt loopily into Black Friday-Small Business Saturday-Cyber Monday (which for many overeager online retailers began on Friday), Christians rang in a new year.

Today is the first Sunday of the liturgical year which is to say the First Sunday in Advent.

Advent is the run-up to Christmas, a liminal season of expectation. But to describe it only as a time of waiting sells Advent short, just as the days between Thanksgiving and Dec. 25 are more than simply an out-of-breath sprint to be endured.

For me, it’s not this time of year without spending some time in church. Sitting (and standing and singing and praying) through a worship service slows down time.

This is not a post about why you should go to church. That’s your call. This is a post about why I go to church. For me, Advent is the best time of year to spend some time in church, to be observant to the reason for the season. Christmas is all crowds and traditional-in-the-extreme music (let’s just say I’m not a fan of “Silent Night, Holy Night”). Lent, too, is a run-up season, preparing Christians for Easter, but Lent and Easter are solemn. The messages are heavy on crucifixion and death (yes, and rising again, I know, but rising from the tomb).

Advent, though, is news about pregnancy and babies and angels and birthdays. (That Advent also coincides with the countdown to my own birthday is just happy coincidence.)

I went to Mass last night for the first time in years, maybe even a decade. It was a beautiful quiet service in an enormous church where hundreds of people were doing the same thing I was — celebrating the new church year. I was reminded how lovely is the ritual of Mass, so familiar and universal.

I was once Catholic, but when I got divorced, I reverted to my origin religion, Lutheran. A week ago, I read the scripture lessons for the last time at the Lutheran church where I am a member. I resigned my position as reader in anticipation of moving away. Coincidentally, it was also the last Sunday of the church year.

Serendipity.

I kind of felt like I was throwing off the bonds of responsibility and the old year and the old way of worshiping all at once. Celebrating the new Christian year for me meant Mass in a big, beautiful church. Which is how I found myself last night in church I’d never been in before soaking up Bible readings about waiting and preparation and expectation.

It is the perfect message on which to meditate for a woman waiting (and waiting) to sell her house.

Advent is not an empty time, I was reminded. It is a season of fullness. Because preparing is just as meaningful as celebrating. Anticipation should be as joy-filled as the hullabaloo for which we’re waiting.

Pondering Advent and the imminent celebration of the birth of Christ, I was reminded of a scene I appreciated earlier this year.

nativity-facade

This is the Nativity Façade at the Sagrada Familia, aka the Basilica and Expiatory Church of the Holy Family in Barcelona, Spain. The church was designed by Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi. The structure is so elaborate, it has been under construction since 1882 and remains incomplete. This is the entryway to the church, and I snapped this picture when I had the opportunity to tour it in June. As you might expect, the Nativity Façade is dedicated to the birth of Jesus.

A single figure is itself a fantastic sculpture, and here there are hundreds of them. But let’s look at the central point of interest there, right above the two doorways of entry.

nativity

You can see Jesus surrounded by his mother Mary and Joseph. Check out those two faces peeking around the corners — an oxen and a donkey. Kind of cute, if you ask me. Carved into stone above Joseph’s head are the words “Gloria in excelsis Deo” (you can read Deo clearly in this closeup). That’s Latin for “Glory to God in the highest.”

This sculptured wall is the entryway to the church (inside is entirely amazing experience in itself). But before you even get inside to see it (and, presumably, participate in Mass), this enormous highly detailed art greets you. You could spend days gazing at each sculpture, taking in the meaning, and you’re still outside the building.

That’s Advent. Days of detail, building up to the threshold of Christmas.

Don’t wish it away. Soak it in.

A way to keep track of time and a way to savor it

I bought a 2015 wall calendar today.

What’s up with that? It’s practically April!

I know, crazy, right?

Amazon was selling some of its 2015 calendars at full price (as ridiculous as shopping for a calendar three months after the year begins). But I found a discounted one I liked which had nice big numbers for each day (we’re as old as we’re slow around here). Besides being affordable and readable, it evokes thoughts of happy hour.

With images of wine.

Lone and level sands

As I wrote a check today, the gravity of “2015” dawned on me.

We’re halfway through the decade.

And not only that, we’re halfway through the second decade of this century.

When I watched the preshow for the Saturday Night Live 40th Anniversary Special last night, one of the participants (I don’t remember who) mentioned he’d never lived in a world without Saturday Night Live.

Sigh.

I have.

I was born into a world where men hadn’t even walked on the moon (and where Star Trek was a television show not a cultural phenomenon). Where phones had cords. Where girlfriends could sit in the middle of the bench seat in a pick-up truck, her boyfriend’s arm draped across her shoulders.

It’s not just that I’m feeling old (I am), but I’m feeling fleeting. Like sand on a windy day, blowing in the wind.

The Roman Empire lasted 500 years — 10 lifetimes in a those times. I’m sure it seemed to its inhabitants to be capable of existing forever.

Yet it didn’t.

Reading about Henry Flagler’s Key West Railroad (book review here) probably didn’t help. The guy sunk $30 million dollars into its construction, and it blew away a quarter century after he died. To preface his book, author Les Standiford used this quote from a Percy Bysshe Shelley poem about Ozymandias who was, perhaps, an Egyptian pharaoh:

And on the pedestal, these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings,
Look at my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains, Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Welcome, February, with hearts and chocolates

The year just began, and then I realized this morning: It’s February 1.

Wow. With all the complaining I was doing about the winter weather and the horrors of the third week in January, I didn’t realize 31 days zoomed by. I’m grateful, I have to say. I don’t mean to wish away time, but honestly, thank God that’s behind us.

I quick look in the archive reveals I’ve felt this way before … two years ago, as a matter of fact, when the weather was, apparently, not so terrible. Enjoy the reblog from 2012:

Boom, the curtain falls on January

As if with a swoosh of a paint brush, January is gone.

Read more of this post

Midnight moment

Today is the last day in June. Tomorrow begins the second half of 2013.

I’m still shaking my head that it’s three years into the second decade of the new millennium. I just was swatting Y2K bugs yesterday it seems. And here it is, June 30. Time to flip the calendar again.

It’s midnight time, the moment between first and last — first half of the year and last half of the year. I’ve written about this time before. I avoid the confusion of 12 a.m. and 12 p.m. whenever possible and aim to say noon and midnight instead. But midnight remains problematic. When it’s midnight, it is still today? Or is it tomorrow?

The book and movie “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” alludes to this dilemma of straddling two places or neither one, in the case of the garden, the place of good and the place of evil.

So now is like that. It’s a hinge, a place in the middle, a changing room … it’s midnight.

Midnight moments call for faith. I am reminded of the scene in “Indiana Jones & the Last Crusade” where Indy steps off the cliff into nothingness. He lands on a walkway that was there the whole time, he just couldn’t see it.

Faith is walking up to the edge of a cliff and stepping off knowing that one of two things will happen: A bridge will form beneath our feet, or we will learn to fly.

A hazy shade of winter

Sometimes, when I’m running really fast on the treadmill (“really fast” being relative), I pass the time by thinking of the 5-second fractions.

Five seconds is 1/12, 10 seconds is 1/6, 15 seconds is 1/4, 20 seconds is 1/3, etc. Pretty soon, the minute is gone, and I can return to a jog or better yet, a walk.

Today is like that, only I’m not wishing for the 11/12th fraction, I’m staring at it unbelievingly. As the second hand swings past midnight, the year is 11/12ths behind us.

Whew. I feel like Wile E. Coyote standing still in a Road Runner cartoon.

Shame on me for wishing away the seconds.

Time, time, time,
See what’s become of me.
While I looked around
For my possibilities.

~ Paul Simon

Oh, the joy of a new calendar!

I found myself at a Barnes & Noble bookstore today (yes, I was using a Garmin, and yes, I typed in “Barnes,” but I found myself there as much as I was drawn). And I picked up a beautiful 2013 appointment calendar.

I can hardly believe it’s time to think about the next year, but it is. The inside of this book is as lovely as the outside with its monthly calendar beside pages for weekly notes, and tabs (lovely useful tabs!) for each month.

It’s enhanced with quotes from Thich Nhat Hanh like “Every step, every breath made in mindfulness is an act of true love.” Of all the books that have slipped through my fingers over the years of many moves, I hung on to Hanh’s “Peace Is Every Step” for its timeless wisdom on living in the moment. This is exactly the philosophy I want perfuming my plans each day.

While I was in the calendar aisle, I spied the 2013 version of Marty Jerome’s Runner’s Day-by-Day Log. I love this calendar for recording my daily running/walking routines, and the 2013 version will mark the fourth year I’ve been using this log.

Because I regularly record my weight and mileage, I can tell you I’ve covered 660.71 miles so far this year, 245.35 miles fewer than last year at this time. I cut back on my mileage earlier this year to assuage plantar fasciitis pain in my left foot. My foot is better, but because of my log, I also know I weigh 7 pounds more than I did last Nov. 18. And I weight 11 pounds more than I did 2 years ago.

Hmm, have I gained weight because I’m running less? Or could it be that I’ve been eating too many of these?

Half empty? Or am I half full?

Introduced to these by a friend who described them as “crack caramel” because they’re so addictively delicious, don’t blame me when Sanders Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramels jump into your cart at Costco.

Now that I have my new 2013 calendars, I can ponder new resolutions to lose weight, run more, live mindfully and eschew anything touting “sea salt.”

That’s all I will do for right now: Ponder. Action can come later. This week, I’m going to be grateful and gluttonous.

The elasticity of time (and home improvement projects)

While I’m still trying to remember is 2012 (not 2010, not 2011, but 2012), two weeks in the first month of the year have disappeared.

It’s Jan. 15, and 4 percent of 2012 are gone. Poof.

Of course, part of my fast-forward problem is that if I’m not working or eating, I’m consumed with this repainting project on our main floor. I’ve now visited a home improvement store 12 times since the first of the year (more if you count Joann Fabrics and JC Penney), and I loathe Menards and its “save big money” promises like Kim Kardashian eschews long-term commitments.

Shopping consumes time as much as money. A couple of years ago, I resolved to do all but my grocery shopping online, and honestly, that was easier to do than this constant list-making and driving and parking and wandering around big-box stores and tracking down “associates” and weighing this option or that and standing in line at checkout and loading my Escalade and driving home and unloading and unpacking and throwing away piles of packaging. It’s exhausting just recounting it. And then, of course, there’s the putting the stuff to use; it took my Beloved and I over an hour to install the curtains in the dining room, what with all the measuring and assembly and, yes, pounding was involved, too.

Pounding. Don’t ask. Sometimes brute force is required, even with softwares.

Two weeks have slipped away, and we don’t have a fabulous new living space, but we’re watching TV on a sofa propped up by two-by-fours. Not that there’s much TV watching going on.

And just as we finish the bulk of the painting and put the kitchen back together, we start questioning each other: When’s the new couch supposed to be ready? Wasn’t it 10 weeks? Did we order it before or after Thanksgiving? Can you remember? Why don’t you call the store?

Well, we ordered it after Thanksgiving and it takes 12 weeks (talk about tedious) and that means it won’t be ready until early March.

March?

Seriously?

And that’s when I wish time would move faster instead of slower.

But isn’t that how it goes?

Time serves no master. Least of all the do-it-yourselfer.

I’m. Digging. In. My. Heels. So there.

So, it’s Oct. 1, eh? Beginning of a new month, a new quarter, the holiday season? It just starts with Halloween and ends with New Year’s, right?

The Schwan’s man delivered Flavors of Fall ice cream to my doorstep this week (a unique but not entirely impressive blend of pumpkin and cinnamon), and the local winery is touting its pumpkin wine. At work, we’re thinking about Black Friday and Cyber Monday. I got an email this week introducing a holiday fragrance from Bath & Body Works.

I am not ready for this. I wore shorts yesterday. The temperature today hit the 70s (which, for you Southerners, is glorious for Oct. 1 in northern Illinois). I’ve barely gotten used to the fact that the school bus drives by my house every day hauling little minds to school.

It. Can’t. Be. Christmas. Yet.

That’s what I feel like.

If I admit Halloween is right around the corner, well, then Thanksgiving is practically here, and you know that means it’s time to shop for Christmas gifts, and then there’s the wrapping and cooking and traveling and the unwrapping and the eating and the coming home, and jeez, it’s time for those New Year’s Resolutions again. Oh, I’m breathless … whew …

Here’s the real reason I’m dragging my feet: I don’t want to decorate. In my former life, my ex-husband dragged out all the seasonal decorations and relished putting them up in new ways every year and lovingly packed them away again. Sure, I enjoyed the scenery, but I never helped. In my new life, I begrudgingly did as little decorating as possible to make my teen-age stepson happy. Celebrating the holidays this way was important to him, so I complied; I considered it one of my stepmotherly duties.

Well, my stepson isn’t here this holiday season, and frankly, I don’t need the extra work or the reminders of his absence. Really, all Halloween needs anyway is a pretty candy dish, Thanksgiving needs a harvest meal more than a cornucopia and the only decoration Christmas needs is a good crèche, if you’re being true to the meanings of the seasons.

So, I will continue to deny it’s October. I will pretend autumn is actually Indian summer. I will refuse to buy bags of candy, and I will remove my front porch light. Someone else will have to prepare the turkey. I will ignore reminders to buy Christmas gifts.

Today is officially Sept. 31.