This picture hangs above our fireplace right now. I say "right now" because when your husband is a photographer, things like this change from time to time. For the most part, I am pleased with the transitions. But this one, the one he calls Snowy Oak, is different. I may just keep this one up for a very long time.
I remember feeling this way as a child in the arms of my father. Safe, warm, connected to something so much bigger than me. I can smell his fresh t-shirt as I pressed my cheek to his chest. I can hear his heart beating as if it somehow were my own, carrying me within the gentle cadence of his strength.
I don't get out into the woods much any more. Conditions have to be just right - for me and for the woods. But I try not to grieve any longer for what I don't have. It's a pretty useless way to expend energy. What I do try to do, is to draw from within, those many experiences I HAVE had. That's what Snowy Oak does for me. I can stand in front of our fireplace and become completely lost in the twisted, gnarled, snow covered branches that fill my wall. My breathing slows as I am drawn into the motion of each flake, to the wrenched rhythm of each brittle twig. I can smell the frozen air. I can feel the cragged meandering bark as I run my bare hand down her trunk. Wrinkled crows-feet worn like the badges of an old women. If I were a fortune teller of oak...Oh, the stories I could tell!
This is most holy.
When I sat down to write to you today, I was filled with a sort of melancholy. I'm not really "feeling" the whole Christmas thing this year - at least, not in the traditional sense of things. Which, I am finding, is actually a good thing. At first the temptation was to wonder what's wrong with me. But as I look inward, what I am realizing is that I am filled with a deep sense of longing. Longing not for the brightly covered busy-ness of the perfectly decorated Fraser Fir or Scotch Pine. Longing not for the hubbub of city streets or the thrill of finding just the right deal or even the display of holiday lights. What I'm longing for this holiday season is this...
This kind of Quiet...
It is from this place, from the quiet dead of winter, that I want to venture out from.
It is from this place, from the barren fields of snow, that I want to adorn my home for the gatherings.
It is from this place, from the lifeless empty branches, that I want to give the gifts of my heart.
It is from this place, from seemingly endless nights of December, that I want to discover my joy.
It is from this place, this quiet, very still place, that I find home.
May we all come home for the holidays.