I look at the shadows growing long in the yard. They come from a tall maple and our old ribbed house. There they lie on a hard yard like sleeping giants. It happens every December as we near the shortest day of the year.
The days darken. I hear the train across the river.
I look around and say to myself, One of these days I’ll clean my kitchen right after baking breads and cookies, after making the chili. But hey, it didn’t happen that way today.
I didn’t wash the dishes or load the dishwasher. The pans are still in the sink, waiting on me to wash, drain, and stack them on shelves.
Then I’ll uncover lost spoons and those notes I have not yet responded to, Christmas cards I want to write. Maybe I’ll find an old note to myself to do or be something, somewhere.
I’ll pause and set everything aside, maybe pick up the phone and make the call or just add it to the long list.
Mugs full of pens grab my attention. Yes, I want to be writing.
I love the baking and cooking thing, but washing the dishes and pans does not entertain or interest me. Not in the least. So. They sit and stare at me. I stay strong and do not respond.
Strange that ten years ago, hand-washing dishes was like therapy, a winding down. My hands in water and seeing the task move along felt good. As pleasing as a warm bath.
Maybe it no longer holds that same appeal because my life is moving along at a rapid clip. I work to keep up. Like being on a train. I’m on a train and can’t seem to slow it down. In fact, it’s picking up speed!
I think such thoughts when I’m stirring around in the kitchen, baking or preparing a meal.
I pick up a damp dishcloth and move it over the surface of the wooden counter. I move it in circles and think about the circle of this world, the train I’m on, how it’ll all slow down one day and come to a complete halt at the station.
Just a matter of time. Everything, in God’s time.
My hand passes over the small scars on the wood, streaks and scratches from my working in the kitchen. I look at the stain left by the baking powder can.
One of these days I’ll remove the stain. I’ll do it. I’ll be Martha-like and become set on cleaning my kitchen from head to toe.
In the meantime, I’m on a train, and days are growing shorter and darker.
Advent. Christmas is coming!
I’m baking goodies and giving them away to friends, neighbors, family, postal carrier, UPS man, whoever knocks on the door.
Back to my train. I have such fond memories of trains.
I remember my older brother, so excited about receiving a small train and track as a gift from the Salvation Army one Christmas in the 1950’s. (He wouldn’t let me touch it that day.) My first ride on a train was a great adventure during college days. And I have been fortunate enough to live within view of trains in Morrilton, North Little Rock, Jonesboro, and Norfork, Arkansas. I know the fun of walking a track, listening to whistles, feeling the tremor of tracks. Trains, coming and going.
These dark days and all of the Christmas hoopla does not blind me. I see that I’m on a train, moving along. Everything timely, just as it should be.
Meanwhile, I work in my kitchen, stirring soup and keeping coffee hot. And sometimes, if I’m lucky, I am gifted with a poem.
However, I do not fool myself: I am on a train, my train.
The dark days will give way one day to more light.
This is the time many of us read Isaiah 7:14 and Luke 2:1-20. Those scriptures give hope and remind us of the birth of the Christ child. I invite you to read them along with me this Christmas season.
God’s gift of the Christ child is for anyone who will receive Him, two thousand years ago and today.
Merry Christmas to each of you.
Photo by Nadine Huskey of Norfork, Arkansas, of a train going from New Mexico to Colorado and back. October, 2017.