Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Life in the Darkness and Thankfulness

I keep saying that I should write some more about our little electric lights fast for advent. It's an idea we copied from the influence of the professors Lipscomb at Houghton college, who fasted all lights but candle light (and string lights for the tree) in their home throughout the season of advent. My friends and I were all pretty impressed, and some of the guys decided to do it in their house their senior year in college. This past advent was the first year that I've lived in a place where candles are allowed, and since I was living with two good friends from Houghton we all decided to go for it, and to use the time to reflect on the coming of Christ, as light in our darkness.

Living that metaphor was a beautiful experience in many ways. Candles are a nice calming light, and many of them smell nice, and sitting in the darkness together singing hymns and carols is really fun. But a lot of this experience was tough. Because we all work full time jobs, we often didn't see any daylight in our apartment, and rising early in the morning to get dressed by candlelight or attempting to cook by candlelight are both pretty frustrating experiences. It was also hard on our minds and hearts. The gloom could get pretty oppressive, hard to wake up, hard to be cheerful, hard to accomplish any small task. As Advent progressed the days got shorter, but we also added more light in our lives. We got more candlesticks, got a tree covered in light (which glowed like no tree in my memory), and the last week of advent, put up a row of string lights in the kitchen. Every time we added light in our lives there was so much delight, and we'd break out in exclamations like, "Christ is coming!" And now that Christmas is past, the light is something we are constantly thankful for. The electricity, the convenience, the brightness of being able to see each other, and find the keys or the wallet or the book we were reading without worrying about dripping wax. Thankful for so much.

Though thankfulness is nothing new in our house. As a graduation present, friends from my church back home gave me Selections from 1000 Gifts by Ann Voskamp. I had liked her blog in the past but I devoured her little book, and it made me want our apartment this year to be defined by thankfulness. So even before we had found an apartment, before we had a wall, we were thinking of having a "wall of thankfulness" to put up things we are thankful for. So we have a wall (or now going on three walls) covered with sticky notes, all things we're thankful for. Some items of thanksgiving are huge things: Creativity. Another chance. Stillness. Some are still broad, but less abstract: Cookbooks. Hymns. Sunshine. Letters. Leftovers. Lots are people we're thankful for: Shane and Clara here in our home! Families we love. wonderful coworkers. Parents. T. S. Eliot. Some sticky notes have stories which make us laugh a lot. We have a trio of notes all of which voice our thankfulness for butter. They read: "Butter." "Butter." and "BUTTER nomnomnomnomnomnomnom." And the story behind those three is as follows. One evening I saw Rebekah wrote the word "butter" on a sticky note, and thought "yes! we are all thankful for butter!" but instead of putting it on the wall she put in on her lunch bag to remind herself not to forget the butter she was going to take to work in the morning. So I wrote a "butter" thankfulness note, and when Rebekah had successfully reminded herself, she added hers on the wall right next to mine. When our friends Clara and Shane came to visit they loved that we had two "butter" post its, and added a third, with the appropriate commentary to go with it.

Here are some other posts from our wall in no particular order, though one should note that since we have the wall of thankfulness in the kitchen there are more food related thanksgivings than might be there otherwise. Yarn shops. Laughing together. The means of grace. Hyperbole and a Half. Using a blowtorch. Humor of the Wardwells. Sleep. Curry. Reading out loud. The money to pay for car repairs. Unexpected food at work! Abigail. Changing gender stereotypes. The internet. Free public bathrooms. Classic Christmas movies. Jenn and Joey. A wonderful grad school experience. Pomegranate. Mumford and Sons. The ability to see. Cassie. The color of the sky after a hurricane. Diner breakfasts. Kind Clara who leaves the parking spot for me. Kind Rebekah who leaves the parking spot for me--on the same night. :) Three tissue soup. Agape love. The purple tool kit. Lights. Hot showers. HUGE PILE OF KALE! Stars. Sanctification. Pandora. The Library. Bagels. Pre-marital counseling. Disinfectant wipes. The month of November. Silhouettes. Owen. Tabletop campfires. The hierarchy of adverbs. Returned wallets. Birthdays and friends who celebrate together. The cookie press. Forgiveness. Bouquets for Rebekah! Christmas bonus. Little brothers. FYHP. Phone lines and the people who make them work. Chloe. Apple crisp. Sundays: a day of rest. Chocolate. Alarm clocks. Letter from Anonymous PEGs. Classes that made us think and changed who we are today. A new toilet. Sharon Creech's novels. Grilled vegetables and pesto. Spiced cider. Love.

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