[Sign in a plumbing-supply store with a Christmas tree and presents in its front window]
Before Christmas, my husband, grand-daughter and I traded germs ( our two-year-old grand-daughter generously shares an unlimited supply of colds and other ailments from daycare with us) which, filled with Christmas Spirit, I fended off. But those germs finally won—and so I spent yesterday under a thick quilt with Olive Kitteridge. (And Kleenex and cough drops and tall glasses of orange juice.)
This morning, still pretty low-energy, still pretty sick, as I waited for my coffee water to boil I found myself wiping down our utterly filthy kitchen stove. “Ahh, ” I thought, watching myself clean up some of the past week’s spillage we’ve been too busy to attend to, “here’s a tiny bit of my Real Life breaking through my exhaustion,” like the hyacinths and paperwhites in my living room just beginning to reveal themselves. (The bulbs were gifts from a dear friend and a dear daughter.)
Low energy, pretty sick, it’s remarkably easy to think about the past week and to only remember how exhausting Christmas is! All that work! All that family drama! All those delicious holiday treats that left me worn out and debilitated once the sugar-buzz wore off! All that surrounding, worldly tension between Hopeful, Light-Filled, Peace-Loving, Joyful versus Cynical, Violent, Bah Humbug.
How comforting (Get it?) to remember as I lie under that thick quilt that Hope and Light and Peace and Joy are within me—within all of us—no matter what the season or how we feel. Indeed, like those mysterious and unprepossessing bulbs, these gifts of the Spirit require only something to cling to and a little water:
Last night, as I was sleeping,
I dreamt—marvelous error!
That a spring was breaking out in my heart.
I said: Along which secret aqueduct,
Oh water, are you coming to me,
Water of a new life
That I have never drunk?
[from “Times Alone” by Antonio Machado]