Thea, sloth is a long summer day, sluggish heat and scorching sky willing me to while the day away. Be a desert dawn, Holy Muse, that I may breathe in the scent of your plump, crisp air and get going. Amen.
Nine months ago, I gave birth to my second daughter. Nine months before that, I had little idea that I was about to conceive another child. In each of these nine-month periods, my world changed radically. Eighteen months ago, I had one awesome child. Then, nine months ago, there were two. Nine months ago, I had an office job and I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area--my husband and I had no plans in place for anything else. Now I am living a life that, for all my creativity, I couldn't have imagined. I live in the Sonoran desert. I've published my first book. I've become an Episcopalian in the midst of a beautiful Christian community. I have found greater peace than I ever anticipated in my prayer life as a Benedictine Canon novice. This evening I am filled with gratitude and hope for the blessings I experience in each moment. And I wonder, with great hope, what shall be brought to birth in my life next.
This past Saturday, my family hosted an Advent housewarming, and I found the wreath and berries you see to the left from Trader Joe's. A tiny wreath and a few tea candles make the passage of Advent time more pronounced, and the faint scent of pine reminds me of home. When I was growing up in northeast Ohio, I was surrounded by evergreens. On Earth Day each year it was customary to receive an evergreen sapling from school to plant at home, and my family planted them. One of the most beautiful places in Ohio to see evergreens is Quail Hollow State Park in Hartville; another is the Jesuit Retreat House in Parma. Evergreens like those don't grow in the desert. Instead, the thriving flora of the Sonoran desert include Mediterranean olive trees, which would have been familiar to the eyes and hands and mouth of Jesus of Nazareth. I miss my childhood home enough to buy an evergreen wreath that isn't native to where I live. Maybe next year I'll fashion my own wreath with olive branches and olives. Olive branches have always been a sign of goodwill, and olive oil is a sign of majesty, healing, and nourishment. Appropriate for the season that awaits the arrival of the majestic, healing nourisher, yes?