Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Confessions of an Advent penitent

It was a short wagon ride

After being chastised by members of the blogging community for my wayward ways -- listening to Christmas music during Advent, and giving Christmas gifts, too -- I resolved to reform.

Saturday, I spent a quiet and thoughtful day at home, shampooing carpets. No music, no pet gifts, no ho-ho-hos.

I meditated upon the symbolism of of everyday life's dirt and grime being whooshed out of the carpets, leaving them fresh, while black, dirty water went down the drain. It's a process that takes willingness and work.

Saturday night, I fell off the Advent wagon.

I went to a party at the home of our associate priest, who lives by the river. We watched the Christmas boat parade, a line of brightly lit boats decorated in various secular and Christmas themes, to the sound of Christmas music: carols and popular Christmas music, both.

Oh, aye, I tried to tune out those Christmas carols, but I found myself humming them under my breath, anyway.

I'm not a boater, but there are few things more beautiful than the line of a sailboat, and one emphasized by lights of the season is particularly beautiful. Here are a few of the boats from the parade, docked by the Yacht Club, where I'm sure they wouldn't let me in on my own. I went there after all the festivities for a nightcap with my hosts, who are members.

Anyway, the timing was perfect -- just after the boat parade finished, the shuttle Discovery lifted off, and from the second floor of the building, just by the intercoastal waterway, we had a perfect view of it arcing over us into the sky, like a giant Roman candle. I didn't have the presence of mind to grab my camera, but here's NASA's photo of the liftoff. We watched this part on TV before running outside:

After all my dissing of Advent music, the service of Lessons and Carols at church Sunday morning was beautiful. Partly because little of the music actually came from the "Advent" section of the hymnal. We heard the likes of a selection from Handel's Messiah, some Bach and other classical music. The stellar voices of several of the performers, including Father J and his daughter, did honor to the music. We're also blessed with a concert violinist and the talent of our music director, who pulled off a beautiful one Sunday.

Sunday afternoon, my dog, Betsy, and I took part in our second Christmas parade of the year. Betsy loves parades -- not watching, but marching in them -- and she got to prance along my company's business float in two of the local Christmas parades this year. She's a performer! And she loves all the children who want to pet her.

A small-town Christmas parade is more Chamber of Commerce than true Christmas. I prefer the boat parade, where boat owners decorated for the pleasure of it.

Every year, the Christmas-parade committee comes up with a theme for the town parade, and every year, the businesses pretty much ignore it, coming up with themes they can accomplish with their vehicles and personnel, and get their businesses on display.

The churches try valiantly to get the Christmas message out, but they are displaying themselves, too.

I suspect Jesus would be somewhat amused.


Lord Jesus, I wait for you in the chill, predawn darkness of winter. I look to the East, and see a glow on the horizon, a sign. I long for you; I mourn your absence. O come now, and bring your light, your warmth, your presence among us. I wait, ready to offer you my adoration and praise.
-- saint pat


MadPriest said...

Dear UnSaintly (until she repenteth thereof her unseasonal sin) Pat,
I love the net. Although I am mature-ish in years I do think it is the greatest invention ever and could possibly save the world. When you watch something on television, even with the pictures, you're not really there, it's still a long way away. But your beautifully written post made me feel I was watching the boats and the lift-off with you. In fact, and you will suffer judgement for this, you even made me feel a little Christmassy - so I'm off to take a cold shower and there'll be no extra gruel for me this evening at dinner. See what you've done - Jezebel!!

Saint Pat said...

Wow, Maddie. That's the highest praise ever. I think I will frame your comment!

Jezebel, huh?

KJ said...

So that's it then. By giving in to the confluence of Advent and Christmas, Pat reveails her state of inherent disorder. I'll just bet she likes that!

Grandmère Mimi said...

Truly lovely writing, Pat. I felt I was there with you, too.