For what it's worth

How can it be December already?

For what it's worth, it feels like just a couple of months ago, it was spring-time; I was watching leaves pop out on the trees and reveling in the warmer weather and the hyacinths and daffodils blooming in my yard. I blinked - and slept a few times - and now it is December. The trees are bare and the landscape is grey. Where in the world did the time go?

I've noticed that the older I get, the faster time passes. I'm sure there's an equation straight from Einstein's brain that would explain this phenomenon, but for now, it's enough that I've noticed it. I am older, time passes faster. Sometimes I feel like I'm standing still while the world whirls on around me. Is it any wonder I'm dizzy? Confused? Left feeling like I've missed important things? And yet each minute, each hour, seems to crawl by with the same snail's pace as always.

Years ago, I sat with my dad in the hospital, waiting for my mother to come out of surgery, and he told me that the same thing had happened to him. He said, "One day, you and the other kids were all little and at home, and then all of a sudden, you were all married and gone. And I missed it. I would give anything to have that time again, and to be there in it instead of letting it pass me by." I took it to heart and promised myself that I wouldn't let life pass me by, but here I am about twenty years later, and guess what? It happened to me, too.

And yet...I can think backward and pull up slices of those memories, dragging them up out of the darkness of the past and reviewing them like faded home movies. The day my first child was born. Her first Christmas - she was dressed in a Santa sleeper and she slept through the whole thing. Watching her walk, watching as she had to give up her only child status and get used to the competition of a sibling. Watching that child grow and develop and change. Going to work, coming home, taking the kids to school, cooking dinners and getting the groceries and washing the dishes - such ordinary moments.

But they make up an extraordinary life; extraordinary, simply because it is mine. It is what I have, and every moment of it is precious. It isn't great, exciting experiences that make it so. It isn't having lots of money - because I certainly don't - and it isn't about all the fun times when I went out with my friends or partners. It isn't about any one thing, in particular. It is about all the moments that make up a life, both the sweet and the bitter. For what it's worth, doing the laundry is just as much a part of life as winning awards or getting promotions. There is beauty in the mundane, and even in the things that are painful. When we suffer we are, at least, completely present with ourselves. Time seems to stand still as we wrestle with our pain. Those of us who live with chronic health conditions know this all too well.

Now it is December, and Christmas is coming. Advent is here and it is a time of waiting, preparing for the coming of Jesus. I will eventually get caught up in preparations of another kind; buying gifts, planning Christmas dinner, decorating the house, and trying to stretch my paycheck to cover all the things I want to do. But in the midst of that, I promise I will try to remember that there is beauty in the small things, too; sweeping up, feeding the dogs, loading the dishwasher, and picking up the dirty towels in the bathroom for what seems like the hundredth time. The ache in my back, knees, shoulders, and hips that means I've pushed too hard again. The feeling of never having enough time to do everything I need to do. All these things just mean that I am blessed with a family, a job, pets, a home, and children. My Advent preparation will be making sure I am present in each moment, not straining forward to attain any specific end, like Christmas.


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