working hands: a reminder to rejoice

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There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens. {ecclesiastes 3}

My sister reminded me of these words the other day as we shelled a bucket of pecans around the kitchen table. I had stayed home from our weekly homeschool group to be with my sick girls, who were at that point snuggled in my bed watching My Little Pony or Elf. I can’t remember. Sick days are meant for endless naps and snuggle movies around our house. Still exhausted from the madness of our Thanksgiving “holiday,” I have also felt restless. Christmas Day is a little more than two weeks away, and I want to enjoy this season. This is the very context of our kitchen conversation that morning: how do we enjoy this season without rush? Without stress? Crack. I wedge another pecan shell between my fingers and the table, pushing the broken shell into our cast-off pile. Blythe straggles to my side, “can we decorate the tree today?” Typically, we would have already done so on Thanksgiving weekend, but this year has been anything but typical. I think about our tree, standing in cold water, tucked at the corner of our living room, barren. “Not today,” I reply. Crack. More broken shells in the pile. “The boys want to help decorate the tree and you’re not feeling well, so let’s wait,” I finish. She seems satisfied and saunters back into my bed. I glance over my arm to the gift list Kristen and I had just created and think of all the non-holiday related work I need to finish and suddenly, I feel tired. Crack. My fingers are sore and dusty with pecan remnants. The bucket is almost empty. What did Madeleine L’Engle call this, the “tired thirties”? I knew I liked her. Kristen and I direct our conversation again toward simplicity, toward the advent season. Yes, advent, the word for coming, arrival. The birth. The miracle. The truth. Yes, this is the time, the season for all of it. Yesterday, we finally decorated the tree with the kids and made gingerbread cookies. My hands are stained and wrinkled with pine sap from our work. They tell the story of preparation, of coming. They remind my heart to laugh, to rejoice.

 

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