of snow and st. francis

We've all been tucked in here at the little old house.  Snow fell, the roads iced over, and the temperatures have been below freezing for days - unusual for our part of Oregon.  Since we are normally so temperate here, we just ride out the extremes of cold and heat by staying put.   Every year we talk about whether we should get a 4-wheel drive vehicle or (in August), get an air conditioner, and every year we decide that there's something good about being limited, even inconvenienced, by seasons and weather. Homogeneity so rarely produces characteristics I admire. 

It was good timing.  Every once in awhile, blogging seems to trigger all my introvert/INFJ/HSP needs at the same time. (You can picture me here with my eyes squeezed shut and my fingers in my ears.)  I finally turned everything off and sat and watched out the window all the tiny frantic winter birds at the feeders.  I'm sorry to say that someone let the cat out (twice!) while those little fellas were desperately hopping around collecting enough food to keep warm.  Death ensued.  And perhaps some wailing at door-openers. But everything is settled down again now.  (The lovely sparrow above was NOT one of the victims and is still alive and well, last I checked.)

I can't watch birds without thinking of St. Francis and his sermon.  

"My little sisters the birds, ye owe much to God, your Creator, and ye ought to sing his praise at all times and in all places because he has given you liberty to fly about into all places; and though ye neither spin nor sew, he has given you a twofold and a threefold clothing for yourselves and for your offspring. Two of all your species he sent into the Ark with Noe that you might not be lost to the world; besides which, he feeds you, though ye neither sow nor reap. He has given you fountains and rivers to quench your thirst, mountains and valleys in which to take refuge, and trees in which to build your nests; so that your Creator loves you much, having thus favoured you with such bounties. Beware, my little sisters, of the sin of ingratitude, and study always to give praise to God." 

I've been reading John Michael Talbot's book on St. Francis this last week.  It's an easy read, but every once in awhile something reaches out and snags me and I have to put the book down and think for a few hours.   A consistent theme with Francis is how strange he seemed to others...so deeply compassionate, so silly in his preaching to birds and creatures and even stones.   I understand that part of him a little - the deep emotional and spiritual outflow that makes other people uncomfortable, the sensitivity that takes him to unseemly lengths.   In blogging, I have tried to let my own sensitivity have voice, but now and then I feel the ridiculousness of it, the way my tenderest emotions stand naked out in the world for anyone to see.   Usually if I just turn things off and reconnect with nature in some way, my anxiety eases and I am okay again.  Perhaps one day I'll find a way to obtain St. Francis' legendary self-forgetfulness too.

~ Advent is quietly marching along, bringing us closer and closer to celebration.  I am reminding myself to rest and stay within that quiet, waiting space.  The celebration of Christmas is about Incarnation - the arrival of God's presence into our humble rooms and hearts.  He needs no cookies or feasts or wrapped gifts, only our willingness to receive Him.  Likewise, the people we love need only our presence and love, our welcome, not gifts and baubles and tinsel and glitter.   Sometimes we cover up our lack of love and our unwillingness to be vulnerable with those Christmas trappings, don't we?  

I'm praying we will each have courage to be unadorned and simply love.

As my friend kort says, 

peace keep you.

tonia