Friday – Tuesday, December 17 – 21, 2010. . .
Ahhh. Final Christmas letter stamped. Gifts wrapped, or rather bagged. Only a few loose ends to tie up.
The best projects this season were the creative ones that slowed me down: writing the letter, printing it, stuffing envelopes, standing in line at the post office; and designing photo books. Words and pictures that speak a thousand of them are gifts of the heart that take time, a short and fleeting commodity in December.
Speaking of slowing down, I’m reading a book by Ruth Haley Barton, Invitation to Solitude and Silence, sent to me by a dear friend who knows me well. Barton continues the influence of other authors on my journey: Richard Rohr, Thomas Keating, Richard Foster, Dallas Willard, Frederick Buechner, Thomas Merton, the ones who remind me that if I shut up, I will hear God speaking.
I am also reminded of Brennan Manning’s retelling of an old story in one of his books. I call it the Strawberry Story.
A man – oh, let’s change this to a woman – is being chased by a tiger. She comes to a cliff and jumps. Part way down she grabs hold of a limb that halts her fall. Above her is the tiger, below her is a long, sheer descent to death, before her the limb is unsteady. And then she sees, growing out of the rock, strawberries. She picks one, pops it in her mouth, and says, “This is the best strawberry I have ever tasted.”
This describes being in the moment. The ability to dwell in the moment is the fruit of sitting before God in silence, letting Him do heart work that will enable me more and more to later be in the moment, even if a tiger is on my heels.
December feels like one long tiger chase. Tomorrow I will sit mentally still and look for strawberries.