Greetings, fellow travelers.
I have been reading a book by one of my favorite authors, Anne Lamott, called “Bird by Bird”. It is a book about the discipline of writing: how it is important to practice every day, to look at a project in small pieces, and the importance of really crappy first drafts, where you just dump on the paper to break the ice and get started. Oftentimes the thing that is struggling to get out of you is covered up by two of three pages of drivel. While I don’t have any aspirations to be a serious writer, I find that I have missed my blogging exercises, and I am beginning to see that writing for me is another one of those activities in life like going to the gym. When I get into the discipline of it, the doing of it makes my life a much better place to be.
It is a busy time of year for us. Shannon has picked up an extra seasonal job loading trucks for FedEx, which comes with ridiculous hours and many questions about our physical suitability for manual labor. In addition to pushing out belt orders for Christmas, I have two performances of a Christmas program with a cantata and a reader’s theater presentation that requires twice weekly late night rehearsals. Shannon and I are very literally like ships passing in the night, and I think we have decided that, although the extra money is nice, he will not take this job if it is offered on a permanent basis. We miss each other too much! And I am looking forward to a time when I can spend a Christmas with my family and friends. For the last 35 years I have been tied to the “make hay while the sun shines” mantra: if I am not crazy busy leading up to Christmas then I am not working hard enough.
So, our preparations for our transition into a full-time RV lifestyle continue to plod along. We are very slowly working on drywall in the loft, and every time I take a shower I am scrubbing a row of tile with comet and a toothbrush. It is my daily reminder of our bigger picture, of the goal we are striving for. We have just over a year before this house goes on the market. And with the cold weather and the seasonal business, it is too easy to lose sight of the vision.
My mother had a complete set of the Lenox porcelain “Birds of America”. She collected them for her own enjoyment, so she did not save the boxes or the certificates of authenticity. When Shannon and I got married, one of the things she gave us was the Eastern Bluebird, she called him the Bluebird of Happiness. Maybe because of that initial gift, and maybe because we are the only ones in the family with a place to put them, when she died it was decided that we would get the birds.
They mostly survived the trip to New Mexico, and they have mostly survived living on a tall ledge around our great room with the climbing cats we share our home and lives with.
One thing about purging, it doesn’t seem to get any easier with practice. Each new thing comes with its own set of emotional tangles. Even though porcelain birds are not really my thing, and when we asked my sister about the disposition of the collection we were greeted with a resounding “sell them!”, I am grateful that we don’t have to pack them up and transport them mostly safely to some other house where they will get beat up by someone else’s cats just because they belonged to Mom. This collection is so tied up with memories of my mother and her love for her gardens and her birds, and the fact that she loved them for the beauty they brought to her life, not their intrinsic value as a collection. The exercise is in holding on to the memories rather than the things that incite the memories. Maybe I am getting better at this!
So, we have been selling them, bird by bird, on Ebay. Most of them sell for less than $10, a few seem to be a bit rarer and go for a little more. But the thing about doing it like this, bird by bird, is that every one of them is going to a home where it is wanted and appreciated for its own individual beauty and significance. Each one of them will have a person that will take joy in that dove or that junco or that oriole.
And there is a new empty space in our house, one more place that is ready for cleaning and repair, ready for the next owner’s collections.
As for the Eastern Bluebird of Happiness, I’m not sure how well suited he is for life in an RV. Will he fly with us? Or is his work for us done and he can go on to bless someone else with this most rare gift?
Living in the Waiting: Sometimes I think that Advent is all about us, about getting our lives in order for the coming of the Christ, about trying to settle and find an island of calm and a moment of silence in this busiest and noisiest time of the year. But this year I think it is bigger than that. It’s about more than our little impatiences, our obsessions with time, our preoccupations with stuff. Advent is about God waiting for us; for us to stop, to be silent, to try things another way, to listen, to accept the possibilities of peace and love and victory, to bend to Him.
Blessed Advent to you all.