Sunday, December 13, 2009

ADVENT COUNTDOWN 13

The holly glows.
The snow flakes fall;
The balsam towers straight and tall;
With tinsel streamers, crescent lights
All twined with mingled greens and whites
Hang thick with many a rainbowed ball.
In memory of the Wise Men's call,
The light appeared and pierced the pall.
For shepherds watching in the heights
The holly glows.
The Christ Child in a tiny stall,
The cattle huddled near the wall
Are circled on all Christmas nights
By one great star with mystic lights:
And like a ruby over all…
The holly glows.
—Myrta Albertson Wells, "On Christmas Night."
———————
[The word "Advent" comes from the Latin adventus, which means "coming." In the Christian church Advent is that period of expectant waiting leading up to the Nativity of Jesus. Some prefer to think of it as a "Countdown to Christmas." If you've ever had an Advent calendar, you know that each day prior to Christmas has it own window, usually hidden behind a little flap or door, behind which is a scene or verse from the Scriptures. I thought it would be fun to take that idea and post a daily photo with a bit of text below—a stanza or two from a Christmaspoem or a few lines of prose from a favorite Christmas story. The photos aren't intended to be tied with the text. Some are just ones I meant to run with a post this past year, but for whatever reason, didn't. To set these posts apart from my regular—or irregular!—ones, I've given them a different typeface and look.]

26 comments:

Wanda said...

The sky could be glowing tonight as well as the holly, with the expected meteor shower. Falling stars and falling snow all around us, but no snow here...Bernie said they once had 70 inches in Alberta! I will settle for 6!

The Weaver of Grass said...

Yes, Scribe, Holly does indeed glow - but, sadly, not ours any more as the fieldfares have already robbed it of berries - still I don't begrudge them the meal - I have plenty of red beads to put on at Christmas in the hall.

Gail said...

HI GRIZZ-

Beautiful photo - the colors and details are brilliant. The words compliment the image so well - I love holly - and all that it means.

Happy Sunday

Love Gail
peace......

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Wanda…

Well, I'm going to one of those "Living Christmas Tree" programs at a nearby church tonight, so 6 inching of snow would be enough for me, too. (I may get tossed out for coughing.) Where I have my little piece of land along Lake Superior, they get upwards of 300 inches of snow annually! Not all at once, of course…but still, almost more than I can imagine.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Weaver…

No berries on my holly, either, which means they're all female plants, or all male plants (you need at least one male somewhere in the neighborhood to get the red berries on the females) so I'm going to have to buy at least one of each and see what's what.

BTW, did your farmer know that in the old days, holly was used as fodder? Or did you know that certain hollies contain more caffeine than any other plant?

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Gail…

I like ho;;y, too…but I need to get my male/female mix worked out so I the plants have the bright red berries.

Happy Sunday to you, too.

Kelly said...

...where are you finding all of your poems. Everything is just lovely. I have several holly bushes outside in the side yard...and this year have a quite a few berries! That's not always the case for our poor little bushes...

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Kelly…

Most of the poems come from my copybooks which I've kept over the years—bits of dialogue, quotes, poems, observations, etc. I'd say I have at least a hundred relating to Christmas.

My holly bushes are apparently celibate…at least no berries.

Gail said...

HI GRIZZ-

I certainly did not know that there is male and female 'holly'. You are so knowledgeable. :-)

Love you
Gail
peace......

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Gail…

Before buying a few holly, I read about them. I didn't know anything about them beforehand, and plants cost what they do, I've sort of learned to think before plunk my cash down for something I can't grow.

My new-found knowledge didn't help much, though, as none of my plants are producing berries, though I supposedly bought both male and female. They're not like puppies…you can't look for yourself.

Gail said...

HI GRIZZ-

I laughed right out loud - "they are not like puppies, you can't look for yourself". Great, great response. You are a hoot!!!!

Love you
Gail
peace.....

Bernie said...

I do hope you and your family enjoyed the Live Christmas Tree presentation....was at one last week and it was lovely....love the holly picture......:-) Hugs

Hildred and Charles said...

A lilting poem and a vibrant photo of the holly, glowing your postings are a lovely approach to Christmas.

Bonnie, Original Art Studio said...

Hi Scribe! I was preparing a future post this morning, and something that I was typing kept evoking a recent memory that I could not quite recapture. It took me until this a.m. (I'm a tad slow) to recall it was the image here on your post. I was typing some favourite phrases from Rilke's "The Ninth Elegy", that go as follows:

"...Why, if it's possible to come into existence
as laurel, say, a little darker green
than other trees, with ripples edging each
leaf (life the smile of a breeze): why, then,
do we have to be human
and keep running from the fate
we long for?..."

Anyway, his few words about the laurel called up your image of holly. I am suddenly feeling like this must be incomprehensible and only making any possible sense to me. If so, I apologize...the link was strong for me.

Hope you are completely back on your feet again and enjoying all your festive preparations.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Gail…

Well…you can't check for sure yourself, right? You have to take the word of the plant's tag…assume you're being given correct information. And you know what they say about "assumed."

Puppies are easier…

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Bernie…

It was a really nice presentation. This church has been doing a Living Christmas Tree program for years, and they do a different one each time around—though the centerpiece is always the "living tree."

We had a lovely evening.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Hildred and Charles…

I'm so pleased you're enjoying these postings. Thank you for each visit and comment.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Bonnie…

No need to apologize whatsoever. I understand how seemingly disparate elements (not that a holly leaf and laurel leaf are much dissimilar) can trigger associations or evoke memories, often even between the senses. I never smell the scent of fresh-sawn wood without thinking of my father who, among other things, was a finish carpenter and woodworker. The plaintive-sweet call of a whitethroated sparrow—though heard in an Ohio yard—instantly transports me to an exact place on a beloved northern Michigan trout stream, and I can hear the clod clear water washing over the polished gravel, feel the wind on my cheek, smell the balsams and jackpine.

Sometimes these jogglings are the twitching of threads woven deep into our personal psyche, connected to the very core of who we are as individuals…while it other times they may just be odd naggles that we're simply puzzled by because we can't figure the connections, a sort of déjà vu sense of "now what is it I'm trying to remember?…"

Anyway, not incomprehensible in the least! I do it all the time. I expect the more "stuff" you've shoveled into your memory banks over the years, the more frequently such moments occur. So I'm going to say you have a well-filled mind.

And I'm just glad you figured the connection out. Unanswered, they drive me nuts!

BTW, still coughing; still spending half the night sleeping in a chair; still improving. (And not whining as much…which I trust you've noticed.)

Bonnie, Original Art Studio said...

Ahh - you are so generous to ascribe (a'scribe'!!) my problem to a "well-filled" mind. Did you search for a while to find that compassionate substitution for the probably more appropriate word "cluttered"?

Enjoyed your beautifully written description of memories easily evoked for you. Those are the times (not being much of a believer in an after-life) that I have a real sense of the meaning of the word 'eternal'.
Those sweet memories abide vivid, palpable, eternally available. What a gift!

I can be immediately transported to perfectly-formed memories of my father by the smell of oil/grease in a garage. He was always tinkering with cars. I love, love the scent of a busy garage and the sight of a big, red Snap-On tool chest. He disappeared when I was young, so transport to crystal clear images of him is always sweet.

Sorry to hear you are still in the clutches of that virus....coughs can be hard to shake. Almost sounds like you may have had a bout of bronchitis....? Hang on...

Kelly said...

...Scribe...thanks! I have a collection of Christmas poems as well. I use them for my Christmas cards. I always love reading the old ones. (Haha...celibate holly bushes!)

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Bonnie…

It was said in good humor (honest!) but I wasn't joking. It just stands to reason that the more "stuff" we have in there—our minds, memory banks, whatever—the greater the capacity for crosstalk and circuitous connections…logical in perhaps a loopy sort of way once we figure it out.

I truly do believe—though it is more certain than mere belief—in an afterlife, so for me, eternal is as daily tangible in as many ways as, say, "history," except that eternal stretches in all directions.

But I can understand your sense of the personally eternal, too—the eternal that exists so as long as you can conjure it up and imbue it with an ephemeral sort of life. I understand that, as well.

And I think that if you would really seek to "know" someone, to understand them at a level deeper than appearance, personality, vocation, habits, language, etc., you would do well to try and know what evokes in them these flashes of the personally eternal, and how they process what arises. The memories of our respective fathers, for example, can each be called up by scent. While they share that trigger, the memories themselves are deeply personal, seated in love and loss, longing, comfort, joy, sadness…a long list of emotions that shape us into who we are. Your memory—which you've so wonderfully shared—tells me something of what you hold in your heart for your father; it speaks of what I'm sure must have been hurt at his disappearance, but has through the alchemy of the heart, been overlaid by forgiveness and love. That you can and have done this says a great deal about you and the mettle of your core.

Your "connecting" the quote form Rilke with the holly leaves is simply a conformation that somewhere in there, between id and ego and superego, something is sifting and sorting, stirring…sometimes nudging.

Not clutter at all, but a careful collection of riches.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Kelly…

I love old Christmas cards—the art, especially. I've thought of collecting a bunch, but never see them around like at flea markets or old book shops—though surely some folks have saved their old cards. I especially love the cards from the 1930s through the 1950s.

Hey, re. my holly bushes…I'm just saying, I have a half-dozen scattered around, supposedly "Blue Boys" and "Blue Girls," but three years down the road and I'm not seeing berries. Either they're all one or the other, or they refuse to intermingle—or they're Shaker hoillies.

Bonnie, Original Art Studio said...

The depth of understanding and compassion in your response produced a swell of gratitude and tenderness in me. You give meaning and import to memories I rarely speak about with anyone. Thank you. (I would like to copy/paste your response - just for myself - if you permit. If you prefer not, I will just come back and read it here from time to time.)

I would also love to hear more about your certainty of an afterlife...perhaps in a future post. I was immersed in doctrine as a child and was, for a time, a true, if forced, believer. I cannot believe the universe is just an amazing accident...I do understand that energy does not die but is transformed, I just have trouble believing that there is a God who is interested in our personalities and will preserve them in some other form or place after our sojourn here on Earth.

Having come to enjoy and respect your points of view, I would love to hear and try to understand how you feel you know so firmly that there is eternal life. It would be a joy to be able to believe that.

Enough. Time to think about feeding the mortal bodies that will sit at my table this evening.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Bonnie…

You certainly may copy and save any response—it is, after all, as much your discussion as mine.

I'm not particularly wise or discerning. But I care very much about people. Yet much of a person's character is buried beneath all sorts of layers of history and social facade. It's imperative to listen to what people say, pay attention to their words and inflections, try and read their hearts and respect their desires and feelings, their history and hurts, their joys and hopes and struggles if you want to connect in any meaningful way. I certainly don't have all the answers to the big questions…but I've spent a lot of my life considering those questions from all sides of the evidentiary fence, and often putting it all to the test. I may wonder and worry about myself, but I've come to recognize and accept certain truths. I do believe in a such a thing as ultimate truth. And I believe in God.

I don't know whether this blog is the place to discuss such matters—though I have no problem discussing my thoughts, attitudes, and beliefs individually. You can always email me at the address listed below my blog introduction. I'll be as honest with you as I can…

Bernie said...

Hi Grizz, I didn't make it clear to Wanda that we had all that snow in New Brunswick not Alberta....it is still very cold here...:-) Hugs

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Bernie…

No snow here, and not too cold…50˚F and dropping, tomorrow's high 33˚F. We'll have our snow sooner or later, though not all that much by your standards.

Stay warm!