Outside my window- It's quiet and dark. It was an unusually mild day today, and I found myself explaining to Kateri what unseasonably warm meant. She was so excited to find little flowers (speedwell) in the grass and I was so excited to find one of my rhubarb plants peeking up its scrunchy yellow green head. She thought spring was well on its way and that we should start cleaning up the yard and getting out the short sleeves but I assured her it was just a tease. Still, can't help thinking about rhubarb cake, just not quite yet-
I am hearing- The scratching of a pencil as one daughter sketches and the clicking of a keyboard as another one works on her novel. Everyone else is asleep and it is so very quiet I can hear candy canes being crunched. (eek)
I am wearing- My current habitual dress of a wool skirt, boots, wool sweater, and a silk scarf tied around my neck for a splash of color and a boost of warmth. It seems unlikely that such a lightweight wisp would make a difference, but keeping my neck covered really works to keep me 'warm as toast' as Eliza loves to say.
I am thankful for- An enjoyable Christmastide with plenty of time for relaxing and leisure. I'm also very thankful every day that we are all in good health, and praying daily that we stay that way. There's so much nasty illness going around, but at present we are all well and so very grateful. Deo Gratias!
I am reading- I've been reading The Hobbit since last year. I had wanted to read it one last time before seeing the movie, as I was afraid the movie images would be permanently stuck in my head forevermore and I wouldn't be able to read the book ever again without seeing the movie in my head. As it was, my brain was unintentionally inserting Ian McKellen's voice for Gandalf and it was translating the book into its own version of a Peter Jackson movie, complete with a long line of Gimli clones travelling over the mountain as I read. I didn't quite get it finished in time, but I am very happy that as the movie is so vastly different from the book and my imagination's interpretation of the book that I am able to continue my reading with an unadulterated visual in my mind. Whew. My dwarves have heads without tattoos (they wear colored hoods, you know!) and my wizards wash their faces and my trolls don't have the sneezles...you get the idea.
From the kitchen- We are still enjoying the last of our Christmas cookies. We really make a Vast Quantity as we give cookie platters as gifts and we have a Jolly Time all making cookies together for two days straight. We are slowly diminishing the twenty-five varieties and today we polished off the last of the gingerbread. We like to decorate some of the cookies to suit the recipients such as these for the mail carrier, friends, and our priest:
This year we had some War of the Vendée gingerbread (complete with Sacred Heart badge):
There is always Latin gingerbread:
And Lydia always has to make some birdy gingerbread. Here we have a costumed scientist feeding a young whooping crane:
We do have a good time with our gingerbread.
In the learning house- We are easing back into the school routines after the long Christmas break. The little ones are rather enthusiastic. On the other hand, interesting quips have been heard from the older ones such as: "In honor of this great and monumental occasion of the first day of school, can we have the day off?" and "If we have a revolution against the king then there won't be any more subjects!" (ha! get it?)
Living the Liturgical Year- We have been living out the beginning of the new liturgical year and the beautiful cycles of Advent, Christmas and Epiphany. We take our cues from holy mother church, not the retail and secular worlds, and so are enjoying the extended celebration that is Christmastide. We are still feasting on cookies and enjoying the delights of tree and lights and the beauty of the Nativity scenes, with the Magi and their marvelous camels having just arrived on Sunday. We're still listening to Christmas music (such as this beautiful old favorite- looks like the nuns have it back in stock!) and basking in the joy of this festive season celebrating the birth of Our Lord. I'm so glad the church tells us to make it last a long time.
We are creating- The girls are busy keeping up with shop orders and I'm still working on finishing a few Christmas gifts. (!)
I am thinking about- The Epiphany meditation from Divine Intimacy:
'A star often appears in the heaven of our souls; it is an inspiration from God, clear and intimate, urging us to greater generosity and calling us to a life of closer union with Him. Like the Magi, we too must always follow our star with faith, promptness, and selfless generosity. If we allow it to guide us, it will certainly lead us to God; it will bring us to the One whom we are seeking.
The Magi did not give up their quest, although the star - at one point - disappeared from their sight. We should follow their example and their perseverance, even when we are in interior darkness. This is a trial of faith which is overcome only by the exercise of pure, naked faith. I know that He wills it, I know that God is calling, and this suffices for me: Scio cui credidi et certus sum (II Tim 1:12); I know whom I have believed. No matter what happens, I shall trust Him.
In this spirit let us accompany the Magi to adore the new-born King. "And as they brought forth from among their treasures mystical gifts, let us from our hearts bring forth something fit to offer Him.'
mixed together with this from the Octave of the Nativity (Feast of the Circumcision, January 1st):
Jesus' humble submission to His Father's will, manifested by His obedience to the law, is another lesson to be learned from today's Feast. It is an invitation to us to be docile to God's will, whatever it may be. None of us knows what awaits us in this new year, but God knows. His will has already prepared our path; every detail of our life is already determined in His mind. Let us be ready to accept, or rather to embrace with courage and readiness, everything that God wishes or permits, certain that in His holy will we shall find our peace and our sanctification.
Ready to embrace...peace and sanctification. God's holy will.