Last night we drove around town looking at lights. There aren't as many as usual this year, but still we saw some beautiful displays, and the toyland folks aren't stinting: on the roof a blinking-red-and-green train filled with toys, Santa waving alongside it, the yard filled with gingerbread men, a creche, a tree and a star, candy canes and lollipops blazing in a garden, reindeer pulling a sleigh, the house and fence outlined in bursts of color, and 10-foot toy soldiers guarding the scene -- a display that makes me sigh with delight every Christmas at its extravagance of joy. Yet just as moving were the white-lighted trees framed between golden curtains in bay windows and the simple wreaths on front doors, quieter celebrations of the same joy.
I missed my parents -- I would like to be with my mother looking at the lights in her town, and it's hard to think that I'll never look at the lights with Daddy or with my beloved mother-in-law again. But the beauty doesn't change for the sorrow; it only takes on a greater poignance in its promise of eternity to come because of the One we celebrate this season. And I rejoice to know that I will see them again and that day not so far distant as it may seem.
We missed the lunar eclipse the other night because of cloud cover; Phoebe hasn't been spectacular for me for a while now, but rather teasing with the occasional glimpse of a sliver or so. This morning, however, as I was leaving around 9:00 to do some shopping, she showed herself uniquely: still near the full, she floated among the softly mottled, gentle cirrus clouds in a light blue sky and matched them precisely in color, only her perfect shape distinguishing her. I'm still here, she seemed to remind me; just keep your eyes open. And I rejoiced in her quiet, demure beauty in the daytime sky.
In the parking lot, loading the bags into the back of the car, I heard the cries of geese and looked up to see them forming into v-shaped flocks, celebrating flight in the clear sky, and I rejoiced in their patterns of beauty and fellowship and teamwork and freedom.
On the way home, a squirrel with some huge prize in his mouth ran across the old ferry road in front of me, making it safely only because the traffic was light and I could I lift my foot from the gas and let the car slow just enough to offset his miscalculation. A few yards on, another started to enter the road directly in front of me and then jerked back just in time; I like to think that his neighbor dropped his precious burden long enough to squeal out a warning. And I laughed aloud at the thought and rejoiced in not taking even a squirrel's life on this lovely, anticipatory day.
photo credit: Daniel Impson