I can live like this
blessed and blessing
in the same motion
Richard Wagamese, from “Poem” in Runaway Dreams
Advent is over—Jesus is born. But, The Christ was already here. So, what did I wait for?
Perhaps, it is human awareness that comes again and again or comes into being when we are open to see. Perhaps, it is what we do while we wait that matters. After a disarray of readings and experiences during the last few weeks, I wonder: how am I feeding a life that is being blessed and blessing in the same motion?
The winter solstice has passed, and each day will bend a little farther toward the light. Our recent unexpected weather event made me more aware of the subtleties and energy of being open to wonder.
Almost 40 cm of snow fell here in Victoria. That is a lot of snow for this city which is known for the warmest climate in Canada. Winter is supposed to be a rainy season with just enough snow to remind us what it is. This snow changed the way we lived for a few days.
The plumber we expected at 9:00 a.m. phoned to say he wouldn’t be coming. Visitors we expected to drop by that afternoon also reported they couldn’t get out of their dead-end street. I didn’t have to clean up the kitchen early or wrap the gifts I had. I didn’t feel compelled to consider that “one more thing” I might need before Christmas. Our collective sense of what are “have to’s” shifted.
Bundled-up families and pets replaced cars on the streets. I saw new sights: a man skied past my house and our neighbour’s dog sported a festive sweater with matching knitted leggings. My friend reported that she wore her sunglasses in her house; the light reflected off the snow was so bright. All of our spirits seemed lighter, too, on this curiously quiet week before Christmas.
I had been given three cards to deliver for the church and the sunny snow made the task an adventure. I didn’t really know two of the three recipients but I knew that personal delivery would amplify the care and connection with their church community.
A purpose for reaching out to someone can be both a solution and a problem for me. I would have to muster up a bit of courage to ring their doorbells. The risk, after all, was very small—they wouldn’t know me—I was just delivering this card for the church. I had that greater purpose to hide behind.
Wrapped in layers and long johns, I set out and made the first footprints in what was the driveway. My first stop was Rosamond’s house near the park. I noticed that her walk and driveway were already cleared of snow and a green de-icer was strategically placed. I don’t really know her and I gathered that she was being taken care of—that’s good.
I easily made my way up the steps to her door. I didn’t see a doorbell so I knocked. No one came. I decided not to try again; after all, I would look like a stranger. I felt a little hesitation, should I try harder? I placed the card in her mailbox and continued my walk down the snow-covered side street.
My next stop was several blocks away and I took my time, awed by the brightness of the day. I passed people shovelling their sidewalks and kids trying out scooters and wagons in the snow and more dog walkers. The snow was too deep to move easily off the sidewalk to let another person pass which I’d become accustomed to doing to keep a distance. Most greeted me with a nod and a smile.
Turning onto Oliver Street, I crossed to the other side and came upon a gentleman chatting with a young couple who were clearing their driveway. It was obvious they knew each other and were catching up. There was no way to get around so I waited. I heard the woman ask, “Ian, is this the most snow you’ve seen in Victoria?”
I realized the man I was following was my destination. These people were Ian’s next-door neighbours. His house, where I think he’s lived his whole life, was my next stop.
We had a pleasant conversation when I offered the card. I don’t remember meeting Ian myself, but my husband has tea with him occasionally. He remembered that I had been liturgist on Sunday and told me how much he liked “the Reverend.” This conversation was comfortably familiar and I was reassured to go beyond putting a face with his name.
My next visit was a familiar one. I meandered a bit and discovered new sights on my way to Bev’s house. When she learned I’d come from Oliver Street, she reminded me that block is where her late husband grew up, too. She shared some of her own adventures growing up in the majesty of mountains and lakes in the southern interior of British Columbia. She is attuned to the wonder of days like today.
As I headed back home, I was on my own again. Yet, I felt accompanied by the people I’d met along my way. There was an openness to each other that was hastened by our shared awe of the extraordinary weather. There was a shift in how we navigated our paths, depending on others to shovel out the way or to find someone else’s footprint that had gone before to lessen our struggle.
I had waited to see again the wonder and goodness of One who never tires of coming into my world. Blessed and being blessed in the same motion.