I found myself on the Eve of the Eve of Christmas really having no plans and being torn between ideas: to stay home alone with my Dog and just ignore the holiday; to fly to the home of my family and be surrounded by holiday cheer when I wasn't really in the mood to add to the cheer and I certainly didn't want to detract from cheer that was there; or to fly to a new country with strangers and spend money I didn't have and do yoga and write and be in a beautiful new place, but knowing really I'd be putting myself into debt that was irresponsible, and quite possibly in the service of running away. So I put it up to the universe and said out loud, "Send me a sign". Then I called my mother for advice and it was my father who answered, saying with enthusiasm, "I'm ready to come pick you up at the airport tomorrow! When is your flight?" and the choice had been made and it was as clear as a slap across the face and as welcome as the snow that fell that next night. So I got a last minute flight, boarded a plane with one bag, and headed to my ancestral home of Maryland (not so ancestral, but where we Speace's were all born).
I found myself on Christmas Eve with my father at his church, a Methodist church in the woods, my brother with us, at the 11pm service. Having been raised Catholic, it still seems like a sneaking to forgo Mass for a 'foreign' service, even though I am an outspoken agnostic who has no interest in organized religion. But I chose my Dad's service mainly because the music is far superior and the church is warmer, smaller, more 'country', and less rigid. I'm always interested in what will be said, even if its not really something I believe in. But the pastor, a heavy man, hands folded on his very large belly, with little metaphor and poetry save a short, and somewhat --to my mind -- unfortunate attempt at relevance with a DVD clip of "I Love Lucy" (relevance?), had some things to say that made me sit up and pay attention. Which is rare for me in church and much rarer after Christmas Eve dinner at my sisters with the generous pouring of Wassail.
This portly, overstuffed man talked of time vs. Time. Chronos vs. Kairos. Chronological time, as in 'what happens next' vs. readiness as in 'the right timing'. Made me scratch notes in between the death notices and the offerings of pointsettas on the church bulletin. He talked of the darkening season, of two people on a mule in the darkest night walking around trying to find a place to sleep, finding shelter in a rudimentary barn. Not a Hilton but a Super 8 at best. An older man and his obviously pregnant not-yet-his-wife-child-bride. Questions and stares and judgements and silence. And how out of this chaos, this complete adversity came something beautiful.
Now no apologies to Glenn Beck and the ranters and ravers of why keep "Christ" out of "Christmas" (oh boy, don't get me started), but I don't think of this story much when this Chronos comes along. Its a story, a mythology. Not sure where I stand on the truthiness of it, but its important. However, the Wonder has left the room for me. Its the dial on the clock. Could be that its because I don't have children to remind me of the "W" in the wonder. And I do enjoy the holidays, but its not like its a HUGE deal to me. I love spending time with my family, but certainly there's a lot about the holidays to remind a lot of us what we don't have as well as what we do have.
So, in the spirit of Kairos, I'd like to give a little gratitude list for 2010, of things that have changed me, kept me in the "readiness" or just moved me forward a bit on the path to enlightenment. Santa did me good this year. In no particular order:
1. Dick Trail and my flight lesson in McCook, Nebraska, including the good people of McCook and the Bieroc Cafe who took me in, stinky and unmad-eup and made me feel like I was at home.
2. My few days of hangtime at Rocky Mtn Folks Fest Song School this year, renewal, laughter and inspiration. My morning "runs" with Vance Gilbert. Trading clothes with Jonatha Brooke. Laughing my tuchus off with David Wilcox, Justin Roth, Nate Borofsky and Jonatha. Margaritas with Paul Reisler...
3. New Years Eve 2010 with good friends at the best dive bar in East Nashville doing Karaoke until the snow started falling.
4. Learning to ski moguls in Alta with Rebecca Eaton. "Be the wind"
5. Ronny Cox as my nurse during my bout with H1N1. xoxo
6. Alex Chilton Big Star tribute shows. Honoring a hero and making new friends.
7. My Amherst College reunion. Remembering why I loved the people and the place so much.
8. Making "I Should Be Blue" with Sid Selvidge in Memphis!
9. Writing and recording "Land Like A Bird" with Neilson Hubbard in Nashville.
10. My friends who held me up and who let me do the holding when they needed someone.
So to all of you who read this, thank you for sticking with me... more to come!