David and the boys are packing up the Christmas tree as I type tonight. It is January 8. Never mind December 31, Start the New Year Clean. Or January 5, The Twelfth Day of Christmas. Or January 6, Epiphany. We bought an artificial tree in 2012, our first Christmas in Alaska. It was a bit odd for this Oregonian, having spent many of my hours in Christmas tree fields – planting, pruning, choosing – to make a Christmas tree choice at Home Depot and bring it home in a box. But I was quick convert. I missed the smell of freshly cut tree, brought inside. But only briefly. I never missed the watering job. Or the dropped needles. At all. Plus – the box tree came with lights already on it! And those lights are probably the main reason we keep our tree up so long here. We’ve just come through a stretch of days where the sun rises after 10a and sets before 4p here in Anchorage. And in the dark, I feel no urgency to take the tree down and put away the lights. But Ethan heads back to school tomorrow. Winter Break is over. And today we gained more than 3 minutes of daylight and got 6 hours and 40 seconds in total!!
A few odds and ends from this past week –
Fresh Air’s Terry Gross interviewed Kerry Egan in October. So I’m late to the story, but I liked this interview and really appreciated a couple points in particular.
Egan: When there is something wrong with your brain, you know it. Always a sucker for other people’s brain injury stories – I want more of her personal story here!!!
Egan: I think there are going to be a lot of things in life, whether you’ve experienced them or not, that we cannot fully understand. That we can’t fully make meaning of. We can try. But at some point we have to be okay saying, you know, I don’t know that I really know what that means but it’s part of my experience and I need to accept it.
Tens of Thousands of Kinder Surprise Eggs Washed Up on a German Beach.
A bad storm knocked this amazing load off a Danish freighter…..and that is how I learned that KinderEggs are banned in the US. whoops.
The Bohemian Waxwings stopped outside my window this week. #alaskamagic !! I’m sorry I didn’t have a good camera ready to capture the beauty. Today’s paper ran a feature – Snowbirds in reverse: When winter arrives, so do waxwings.
In another case of being late to the story, David and I watched the first episode of The Crown on Netflix last night and I look forward to watching more. I see it won Best TV Series at the Golden Globes tonight.
I listened to Krista Tippett’s 2015 On Being interview with Maria Popova this week and resonated with this particularly:
Popova: ….I used to marvel for a long time why my best ideas … insights on the truths of my experience, of the human experience….
Those ideas, the best of them came to me at the gym or on my bike or in the shower. And I used to have these elaborate theories that maybe there was something about the movement of the body and the water that magically sparked a deeper consciousness. But I’ve really come to realize the obvious thing, which is that these are simply the most unburdened spaces in my life, the moments in which I have the greatest uninterrupted intimacy with my own mind, with my own experience. And there’s nothing magical, at least not in the mystical sense, about that. It’s just a kind of ordinary magic that’s available to each of us just by default if only we made that deliberate choice to make room for it and to invite it in.
Speaking of Krista Tippett + Jennifer behind the times, I also listened to this RobCast where Rob Bell interviewed Krista Tippett and they talk about her book Becoming Wise, which I read last spring. Actually, I listened to it on Audible, and highly recommend reading it that way because she reads it and the book incorporates a lot of interviews. The audible version allows you to listen in on the actual interview clips. The conversation between Krista Tippett and Rob Bell is thoughtful and So Good. yes – I am a RobCast fan.
And so I also listened to Rob Bell’s interview with John Phillip Newell and came away with a couple trails I want to follow. More on that later.
I just discovered the Pass the Mic podcast, from the Reformed African American Network, and I will definitely keep this at the top of my listening feed in coming weeks. This past week I listened to the hosts, Jemar and Tyler interview Andy Crouch, Executive Editor at Christianity Today. In October, Christianity Today published Andy Crouch’s essay, Speak Truth to Trump. Some of that was part of this candid conversation on power and vulnerability and race and the gospel.
That was the first time I’d listened to these guys and wanted more so I scrolled backward and listened to their December 12 episode, Safe Havens in Tumultuous Times. Their conversation about the Black Church in America was so good – opening spaces in my brain with stories I don’t know.
I listened to more stuff worth mentioning, but the lights are out, the tree is back in its box, and the boys have gone to bed, so I’m gonna stop for now…..with this poem by Mary Oliver that Paul Holdengraber quoted at the end of his November conversation with the late John Berger. Recorded here on A Phone Call With Paul.
The Uses Of Sorrow
(In my sleep I dreamed this poem)
Someone I loved once gave me
a box full of darkness.
It took me years to understand
that this, too, was a gift.”
― Mary Oliver, Thirst