A Reminder, a Mystery Solved, and a Gift

First – if you wanted to email something for our advent calendar but forgot (or wanted to do it later after you thought about it), our friend is going to try to put it together over the weekend, so please send the email soon.  (The address again is tallonadvent@gmail.com.)

Second: There is a trail here on the island that I’ve been walking a lot.  There are some benches at the top where I have been sitting and reading.  Here is one reason why I like it:

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Here is another:

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(You might not be able to tell, but that dark spot is a humpback whale)

Another reason is the walk through the trees.  There are a lot of a certain kind of tree along the trail.  I’ve been trying to figure out what they are – since the trail is called “Oak Bluffs,” I thought they might be oaks, but as far as I could tell, there were no acorns, so that’s out.  Many of them look really strange – the bark has mostly peeled off, and they look half-dead.

 

 

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Last weekend Mike and I went to the Pender Island Yule Faire – it was a really fun market with some really amazing stuff, most of it produced by artists on the island.

Before we went, I was looking at some of the things that were going to be for sale, and I particularly loved these necklaces:

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They are made with turquoise and wood from Arbutus trees.  I had never heard of these trees before, but we spoke with the creator and found out that they only grow within a few kilometers of the coast, and that they experienced a blight here on the island a few years ago, but are coming back.  These are the trees I’ve been looking at and wondering about!

Which leads me to the third thing: I wanted one of these for myself, and there was a really good deal for two – my bargain-loving heart couldn’t resist.  The second one is for one of you.

If you like it, or know someone who might (Christmas is coming!), enter by following the Rafflecopter link below and entering your email or signing in with Facebook.  The contest is closed Tuesday, Nov. 28 at midnight (Pacific Time).  I’ll announce the winner on Wednesday morning, and will mail or deliver the pendant to the winner.

The winner is: Karen T.  Thanks for playing, everyone.

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more Beautiful, True, and Funny

Hi guys.  I want to keep sharing these things – partly because this is part of the process I am going through, thinking and learning, and partly because I think that these things have the ability to encourage and inspire others, too.

hidden life of trees

Reading this book filled me with wonder.  Some of the things he talks about, you can see by just looking out the window if you have a tree or two in view.  Reading a couple chapters and then going for a walk in the woods… wow.  I love trees to start with, but this has changed my whole experience of being outside.  Some of the mechanisms trees have for regulating growth and communicating with each other are beyond anything I had previously imagined.  (Mike and I have been discussing how Tolkien showed some keen insight with his creation of Ents.)

We all need more awe and wonder in our lives.

 

 

 

beauty will saveIf you’ve been reading my previous posts at all, you know why I was drawn to this book.  And it was in the discount section!  It wasn’t exactly the book I thought it might be – but it still spoke so deeply to my heart.  (This was the book I quoted from in the last post.)  I’ll let the book describe itself.  “In today’s world we have technology, convenience, security, and a measure of prosperity, but where is the beauty?  The full message of the beauty of the gospel has been replaced by our desires to satisfy our material needs, to empirically prove our faith, and to establish political power in our world.”

 

 

Let me make a confession:  I LOVE mom-blogs.  I have for a long time, long before Beatrix was born. (I mean, after she was born, its not like I had time to read them!)  (Although they have even helped me in practical ways in the past.)

This blog has made Mike and I laugh so many times.  I am amazed at her ability to convey so much emotion with simple drawings.  It is also a motherhood survival skill to be able to take things that are difficult and laugh at them – she has it, and reading her blogs helped me develop it.

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And this sock commercial!  It made me cry.  Not because they are doing business AND helping the homeless (although that’s great), but because they had a great idea, and then they did it.  The guy saw something that bothered him, and that made him think.  He came up with a way he could help – they imagined and researched to develop something good, and then they actually did it.

 

One more thing:  Did you go watch all the Walk off the Earth videos yet? No?  Here’s another favourite.

Blessed are those who mourn…

I know this doesn’t sound like a thank-you from the title, but bear with me.

I’m going to start with a quote from “Beauty Will Save the World” by Brian Zahnd,

“Sorrow is a necessary consequence of loving others and being fully engaged with humanity.  It is through the work of grief that we carve depth into our souls and create space to be filled with comfort from another.  In this way, grief is understood, not as a reality to be denied, but as a work to be attended to.  …Where… banal happiness seems to be the highest goal, we don’t want to attend to the work of grief, we put it off as an unpleasant task or something beneath our station,  But this has consequences…  In such a state the soul can never know true comfort and joy; it can only be anesthetized with entertainment.  It is in the work of grief that space and depth are created – space and depth that can be filled…

“Jesus is making an important announcement to those who… have allowed themselves to be sculpted by pain and sorrow.  Jesus seems to be saying that those who have… engaged in the real work of grief… are the ones who will encounter deep comfort…

When human beings suffer tragedy and profound loss, there is a certain amount of grieving that is required.  But in the mystery of human inner-connectivity, the work of grieving does not have to be done alone.  When we choose to bear the burden of sorrow with others, it really does lighten the load for the suffering.” 

(emphasis mine)

I read this on the same day I went through cards again – cards from the funeral, and cards that we have received since. I sat in front of the fire and glued them into the blank books that Don put out at the funeral – that many of you wrote memories and encouragements in.

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You guys, this season is hard and awful and I wouldn’t wish this on anyone.  And yet in the midst of our pain, at what feels like the end of joy, we have received such overwhelming comfort.

It reminds me of more of Jesus’ words: he promises that those who have left homes and families for his sake will receive them back many times over.  We have done this, and sometimes it has been a joy and often it has been a sacrifice, but…

Especially in our time of need, we have found that we have a greatly extended family who is looking out for us – providing us with homes (including our home for this month on Pender Island), transportation, food, and encouragement.

Comfort.

So thank you.  Your words (and your presence through them) have meant so much.  Your cash gifts have given us the freedom to make choices based on what we need at the moment without fear that it will cripple us tomorrow.

In the midst of our mourning, we are finding such incredible comfort.

Advent is coming

I’ve written before about our process of beginning to celebrate Advent.  Its become a family tradition that is fun and deeply meaningful.

For the last few years I’ve started planning Advent in summertime, trying to gather materials and presents to help us celebrate in December.  Last year we wrapped up 28 books for Beatrix, and she got to open one each day.  She was old enough to kind of get it.  She understood that each day, she got to open a package and then read a new book (some of which she was more interested in than others).  I worked hard to choose good books that we would all enjoy – with no library access, this was all we would have to read, and I think reading with small children is one of the most important things a parent can do.

 

It was a lot of fun, and I was really looking forward to doing it again this year.

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As I’ve started looking ahead at the months to come, trying to think about what to do for Advent and Christmas filled me with despair.  Any option I thought about just brought pain.  I couldn’t get excited about the idea of arranging 30 days of chocolate (or tea, or cheese, or whatever) for Mike and I… it seems so empty.

Yet, we can’t not celebrate.  Our rituals and traditions are about things that are true no matter what our circumstances.  Advent is about celebrating joy fulfilled – and at the same time, the recognition that our world is not right – and the longing and the hope that one day all will be well.

It seems to me that Advent is precisely what we need at this time in our lives.

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I thought about a few years ago, when Mike and I wrote notes to each other for each day of Advent.  This seemed like the best idea, but I am pretty sure neither of us is up for that kind of project.  Then I remembered that we are surrounded by wonderful and amazing people who have been wanting to do things to care for us.  One of the things we have appreciated so much over the last few months is the various emails, blog comments, and cards we have gotten from our friends.  It has been such an encouragement.

We would like to organize that a little bit, so that we each have at least one new message to read from one of you, for each day of Advent.  I have asked a friend to receive and organize them for us so that it can be a surprise.

It feels a little strange to be asking people to send us kind words – but please send us kind words!  It doesn’t have to be eloquent, or even your own words – we would be happy with poems, songs, scripture verses, comics, etc – whatever you think is meaningful, true, beautiful, and/or funny.

You can email your messages to: tallonadvent@gmail.com.   (If there is anyone who wants to mail a card or something else tangible for the “calendar”, please send me a message and I will give you our friend’s mailing address.)  Please have them to her before Nov 25 so that she has time to arrange everything before she delivers them to us.

In advance, thanks.