Oh, my, where does the time go? A whole year has come and gone since I wrote on this blog! Well, at least the date has turned over to 2010. My only excuse is that I had an absolutely abysmal Advent, Christmas was fine, but gone in a flash (the whole Twelve Days!), and there doesn't seem to be the lull I expected between Epiphany and Lent. We've had the Bishop's visit last Sunday (I also celebrated my 10th anniversary of ordination to the priesthood), tomorrow is the annual parish meeting, and next Saturday is our vestry retreat. For non-Episcopalians, the vestry is like the parish council or board; we meet monthly, but once a year we take the better part of a day to do a little self-evaluation, planning, and envisioning for the next year, as well as to orient new members. Of course, for each of these big events, there's a lot of planning and preparation that I also do, so it keeps me hopping.
As for the abysmal Advent: I don't know exactly why or how that came to be, but almost without realizing it, a few days before Christmas, I realized I was very depressed -- so much so that I knew that I needed to monitor myself carefully, and if it continued, get some help and medication. I think a lot of things came into play all at once, including, of course, post-Italy-adventure letdown.
In any event, on Christmas Eve I woke up, and suddenly everything was all right again. It felt like a peaceful Christmas Eve morning, and I had energy, and my mood was fine. I spent the day decorating my house (I had my tree up, and the rest of the decorations in from the garage, but hadn't had the energy to decorate), including hanging some tinsel garland outside (I don't do outdoor lights) and buying a new garland for my front door wreath, with little mittens on it. Very cute. I did some grocery shopping, including a turkey roast (with light and dark meat -- perfect!), a duck (frozen -- to cook on New Year's), and a beef rib roast. I had gifts to open from family, and especially, as always, from my generous friend Cheryl, who is the best gift-giver I know. I had a festive little house. My sermon was done, and my time was my own until some time before the 10 pm Christmas Eve service.
I had a great week after Christmas, doing some intensive journaling, reviewing 2009 and preparing for a new decade. I started a new book, When the Heart Waits by Sue Monk Kidd, and I'm still reading it, little bit by bit, savoring just a page or two at a time. Her language is beautiful, and she captures that time of transition and discernment so well.
Now my decorations are mostly down (though not completely packed up and put away). I tend to leave the predominantly red, white, and silver stuff out through February, when I begin to switch over to green for spring and St. Paddy's day.
I will continue my Italy travelogue another day. I'm still working my way through it all. But here's a photo I'll leave you with -- my creche for Christmas 2009-10.
I hope you can get a clearer image if you click on it. I didn't put all my critters there, but the dragon on the roof of the stable is new, and I'm not sure I used the airplane (also on the roof) Elvis and Santa are there, as usual, along with the snack truck, the street lights, and the little mouse, offering the baby Jesus his piece of cheese. It makes me smile every time I walk by.
I will also leave you with one Italy shot:
I ate lunch here one day, just outside Altavilla Milicia, which is about 20k from Palermo (Sicily). It's a great story that I promise to tell one of these days. The trees in the foreground are lemon trees -- the lemons are green in Sicily -- and that blue line at the horizon is, of course, the ocean. The restaurant owner gave me a bag of lemons, right off the trees, which I took back to my landlady in Palermo. What you can't see off the far right edge of the photo is a line of several attached cottages -- kind of like old-fashioned motels used to have. Now I didn't ask, but I'm convinced that at least some of them are summer vacation rentals, and my fantasy is that I will spend my retirement winters in one of those cottages, writing books and walking my dogs to the seaside every day.
Incidentally, at midnight in Palermo, it's 55 degrees F and partly cloudy right now. As a man said on the train one day, "Ahhh, Eeetaly!"