01 December 2008

Twenty five windows

I've not been forgotten.

Every year I served the Church of the Ridge an Advent calendar appeared in the mail, arriving before Thanksgiving, sent sort of anonymously by a parishioner and someone who over time became a dear friend. It was always sent directly from the bookstore at an Episcopal church in Augusta GA with no enclosures, no name, addressed in unfamiliar handwriting by someone on the store's staff.

But, sleuth that I am -- actually, a pretty fair listener, I heard this man say during a party that that his favorite slice of the Christmas holiday pie was the Advent calendar. Introduced to him during this childhood by an elderly relative, he'd taken up the practice of giving them away in large numbers. And, with that tidbit my benefactor's identity came to light.

Just over two weeks ago our mail included a card from the post office alerting us to an envelope too large for our mailbox. A special trip to Edgefield post office. The familiar mailing label. Inside a two-layered rectangle of cardboard with a picture and 25 windows. I'm still on the list!

This year's calendar is the most lovely and substantial of all those I’ve received. It's also rather understated, something of a rarity, most that I've seen bordering on garish and prone to cast glitter everywhere. The nativity scene on this calendar includes the magi, shepherds and sheep, in addition to the holy family and their patient-looking donkey, the surroundings subdued, but luminous, in golds, deep reds and shades of grey. It's a restful scene, one I cannot help but hold up to what I see in my imagination of the post-stampede scene in that Long Island Wal-Mart. How did we get from there to here?

So today, door number one. And -- today and for 24 more days, a reminder to be calm, to treasure every breath no matter that any particular moment holds, to be present and mindful.

And, perhaps selfishly, the sweet knowledge that I’ve not been forgotten.

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