“Existence now takes on the character, we might say, of a still-life in a Cezanne. There is a table. Upon the table, a plate. Upon the plate, some apples. Nothing else. Everything is there, clear and evident. Nothing left to ask or to answer. And yet mystery everywhere. There is more in these things than meets the eye: more than the simple individuality of each thing…It might even be that the mystery is the very stuff of being; things, events, everything that happens and which we call life.”                               from “The Stages of Life and Philosophy” by Romana Guardina

T’is the season when life is not still at all. It’s hustle, hurry, hop from one commitment to another, dragging my to-do lists along like some tattered life line, hoping it will keep me sane and afloat. The older I get the more convinced I am that the Christmas miracle is not so much the virgin birth, but that the cards get out (IF we find time to take a picture, a miracle in itself), the presents get wrapped, the cheer cajoled from some deep frazzled place that says “yeah, right” re: a silent, holy night. Today began by swearing as I was speeding on my way to church (not exactly an ideal Sunday school lesson for my girls!), and ended, after way too much all-day to-and-fro, under a light, cool drizzle at the nightime Mt. Pleasant Christmas Parade, which I tried to skip but relented due to a Claire-induced guilt trip.  

Upon the plate, some apples. Nothing else. Everything is there, clear and evident…”   The scattered, jumbled clutteredness of my life right now, exacerbated by the holidays, is a jarring juxtaposition to my mother’s. She is clearing the table, keeping it simple, savoring the well-deserved luxury–after decades of work and now only a few years into retirement– of days to sit and read all day if she wants. And yet the haunting knowlege of days to come…when, we do not know…is very much present this holiday season.  The days when it won’t be luxury but a cruel confinement to sit all day, everyday. Right now, ALS is just a specter. A ghost of Christmas future. She’s doing so well, totally mobile and energetic and beautiful, only her speech and swallowing affected by this still newly-diagnosed disease, but I’m going through the Christmas motions wondering and worrying what next Christmas will bring. I’m sure it will bring a different jumble of emotions while still retaining this same sense of harriedness, of over-kill and over-scheduling, despite my soul’s deep craving for simplicity. Despite my longing for the beauty of stillness, for mystery, and clarity. For a table. A plate. And on the plate some apples.


~ by Stephanie on 12/14/2009.

One Response to “Another.Laundry-list.Sunday”

  1. Steph, the openness and clarity you bring, through your work, to the world, is a gift I have long appreciated and admired. Though it pains me that ALS is the “topic,” you have been “assigned,” I can only begin to imagine how many people on a similar journey will find a “tattered life line” of their own through your blog – the kind of peace that arises from empathetic understanding and honest, spare, beautiful writing.Already it offers us readers a chance to reflect and, in the very act of stopping to take in what you have shared, indulge in that very necessary moment of stillness in the season’s fray of festivities.Thank you. Em

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