A slide show through my December would consist of a mad-fast jumble of contrasts.

Twenty crazed minutes mid-Saturday inside a crowded Walmart in Portland, Oregon, accompanied by overloud, carnival-toned Christmas songs.

A quiet, tearful hour or two curled up next to my frail and ailing–to be honest, dying–95-year-old grandmother.

Faces against windows, pressed closer to better see commercial displays of lights and merchandise. Airports full of strangers. Streets and stores packed with shoppers. Some cross. Some kind. Not a one in any way as invisible or insignificant as they all seem to be to one another.

Primary children and cousins pressed up closely against the glass in front of a pink-tiled baptismal font. A crowded but cosy chapel (or two, or three). A dining and living room full of friends and family. Not just known, but also much loved.

Frantic (and exhausting) busyness.

Precious few quiet moments, desperately stolen from the demands of the day.

Smog. Sun. Grey. Green. Hurt and heartbreak. Love and Joy. Crowds. Quiet. Sickness. Health. Death. Birth.

Even knowing what I know, sometimes I don’t quite know what to make of it all.

Do you?


  1. Kellie aka Selwyn

    December 30, 2011

    Nope. Sometimes I think knowing what I know makes it even harder to make of it all.

    But oh, the beauty in the chaos… And delighted in this: “Not a one in any way as invisible or insignificant as they all seem to be to one another.”

    Thank you!

  2. Sharon

    December 30, 2011

    Don’t you wonder, apart from human relationships, which is obvious, how much of the other “stuff” (not only physical stuff but all the other packages “stuff” comes in – stress, time pressures; responsibilities, etc) really is counting for much in the next life? Or does it? And if so, what’s the connection? What’s the relationship? How does it matter?

    I had such a pressured, unorganized, discombobulated (?) December that left me exhausted and down with the flu. What’s the relevance to eternity?

    Christmas Eve I was moved to tears of emotion seeing each of my grandchildren and children breaking bread together at my table (our traditional Christmas Eve gathering and dinner). But were the tears from exhaustion? Or love? I don’t know. I guess because of my age I really wonder how much of the majority of the responsibilities and happenings of my
    days have any relevance to the next life.

  3. Melissa Y

    December 30, 2011

    Dalene, this was lovely. And I’m so sorry about your grandmother.

    I don’t know how to make sense of the contrasts either. December seems to amplify everything, and I’m a little weary from the sheer amount of feeling.

    I love that last picture, with one tree lit and the other dark. I’ve never noticed that before.

  4. La Yen

    December 30, 2011

    Dalene, I need more of you in my life.

  5. Lisa G.

    December 30, 2011

    I have to admit I smiled, Dalene, at your perfect description of life, a sort of tender sympathy welling up in me for all of us, doing our best to make the best of what often feels like incomprehensible Life. I’ve already cried today. So thanks for the opportunity to step back and see it whole, all the messiness, all the beauty, the loss, the promise, the pain, the joy. Sigh — you gotta love it! To Life!

  6. dalene

    December 30, 2011

    Kel– Thanks for getting me. Actually thank you all for getting me. And yes, the beauty and the fullness in the chaos–that’s what keeps us going, right?. Thanks, Kel.

    Sharon–Sometimes I can’t tell the difference, either. I found myself working so hard on meals, gifts and such up to, through and after Christmas I was wishing I had managed it all better so I could have sat down and played games or watched a movie (or something) with one of my kids. I’m sure I’m supposed to be learning something through all of this, but I’m not sure I’m getting it right. Only that I keep trying.

    Melissa–Thank you. And it’s all good. She misses my Grandpa, feels useless here, and just wants to go home. But I will miss her dearly. And yes, I am weary. That long winter’s nap thing sounds pretty good about now.

    La Yen–Love and hugs, dear friend.

    Lisa G.–That’s the crazy thing–we’re all packed on this messy, beautiful wild ride together. I marvel at the people who seem to manage it without quite the same sense of madness. Is it an organization thing? Are the organizers going to be better Goddesses than I for their better management skills? I guess I don’t try so hard to understand it because I just can’t think about it. But in the end, yes, “To Life!”

  7. she-bop

    December 30, 2011

    I’m just sitting here thinking – What happened to Christmas? What happened to December? What happened to 2011?

    How? What? Where did it go?

    And, really, did I lose my mind somewhere along the way?

    Here’s to hoping I can find it somewhere in 2012.

  8. Michelle

    December 31, 2011

    The older I get, the more of this messiness I seem to feel, notice, wonder about, resent, embrace, learn from, fight against….

    Being fallen is hard work. The only way I can start to really make sense of it is to bring the contrasting principle of the fall into my heart…the atonement.

    And then I only realize how little I understand about that.

  9. Michelle

    December 31, 2011

    (but it all makes me want to understand more)

  10. Melody Newey

    December 31, 2011

    It’s a wonderful and terrible life.

    No, I don’t really know what to make of it, but I the double-edged sword of truth is a beautiful, perfect thing to me. And I appreciate people like you who hold the blade up to the light and examine it from both sides.

  11. Melody Newey

    December 31, 2011

    I wish I could edit that “I” out of my comment. That’s all.

  12. Lisa G.

    January 2, 2012

    “Being fallen is hard work. The only way I can start to really make sense of it is to bring the contrasting principle of the fall into my heart…the atonement.”

    Amen, Michelle.

  13. Georgia

    January 18, 2012

    But making is what we do. We are makers. That’s the thought I’m left with at the end of your post. We ARE makers. In time (or eternity) you’ll make something beautiful from all these random pieces. I’ve been watching you. I’ve seen you do this again and again. xo

  14. Georgia

    January 18, 2012

    And here’s another Amen for Michelle.

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