Busy being alive.

It was a drippy and drizzly morning when I drove to the post office to ship Christmas presents to a few of my family. I thought there would be a long line, so I gave myself plenty of time, because I wanted to go directly from there to the cemetery in time to pray with a friend at her husband’s interment.

But few people were at the post office, and three workers, so I finished that business and was out the door with time to spare. Before I got my car door open a man with a long and full beard said, “Hi, Gretchen!” but I didn’t recognize him behind his face mask. Actually, I wouldn’t have known him without the face mask, because I hadn’t seen him in six years, and never with such facial hair. I had to ask, “Who are you?” and as soon as he told me his name I gave him a big hug and a kiss. Mike doesn’t live in my town, but the last time we’d met was in the same shopping center, the year in which we both lost our spouses. Back then we weren’t in the talking mood, but this time we stood in front of the post office and caught up for half an hour. He told me that recently he has fallen in love — with the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom! What a joyous meeting we had.

I had another visit with friends yesterday, for which I made a big pot of chili beans; this afternoon a little tea time with a sister from church when I got back from the cemetery; and last week, a walk with two friends. It’s still fall here, but the colors are all turning to browns and grays, so I was surprised to see this mushroom, the brightest I’ve ever encountered. It was one of several of its kind popping up under bushes.

Some of my family are expected to arrive next week for a nice long Christmas visit. I need to hire a Christmas elf assistant, to help me accomplish all my projects — but that doesn’t sound likely, so I cheerily push one thing after another on to the list of what we can do together, after they arrive.

And for this month, our church women’s reading group has picked a great pair of books: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, and On the Incarnation by St. Athanasius. I am just amazed at us! Last month when Pippin’s family was down for Thanksgiving, the Professor and I were sitting around chatting about church history and doctrine, and he shared with me a paragraph from the first chapter of On the Incarnation. My response was that it was crystalline. That’s probably the first time I ever used that word, which just popped into my mind — that’s what Athanasius will do! And I told the Professor that since I was soon to start reading the book again, I would be sure to post that passage on my blog.

Beginning to read St. Athanasius again has been soothing and encouraging. I got the idea of posting a series of excerpts this month of Advent, when we anticipate The Incarnation. But as I looked over my past blog posts to make sure I didn’t repeat myself too much, I discovered that I have already posted that very paragraph the Professor read to me, plus many more long and short quotes. Maybe I will find something different, but not likely a series.

Tomorrow is the Feast of the Conception of the Theotokos. I’m looking forward to attending Liturgy for the feast. I feel very happy at the moment, thinking about it. The world is full of trouble and strife and unknowns, questions about what governments will do, and what I should do. But for at least many hours of every day, I know what to do, and I do it — one thing after another. My mind gets distracted constantly, but often when I bring it back to here and now, a great gush of joy falls on me, knowing that I am alive.

13 thoughts on “Busy being alive.

  1. “But for at least many hours of every day, I know what to do, and I do it — one thing after another.”

    Like Elizabeth Elliot said, “Just do the next thing.”



  2. Oh Gretchen, how wonderful to see a friend after so long! (And, while I’m at it, I really admire your organization and the fact that your gifts are out in the mail already. I have to get busy!). Seeing friends for chili, time to read and walk, anticipating family visits — it’s all so warm. I love your red mushroom. I have a soft spot for the red ones — they are like fairy houses! And I’ve never seen one in person, but I needlefelt a lot of them (the stems are hard!) and have many on my tree!) I love it!


  3. It’s always lovely to meet up with an old friend after a long separation.
    I wonder if your pretty red mushroom is the fly Amanita ( which is very poisonous).
    I hope you get all the necessary preparations done so you can relax and enjoy the famliy when they arrive.


  4. We are listening to Christmas Carole on audiobook 😉 A Christmas elf. I need two or three of them – no resumes required!

    How nice to renew a friendship with a great conversation.


  5. I’ve just started getting out a bit more in my town, though I still wear a mask, and I had three people in the last two days say, I know you, and that was a happy beginning of a conversation with people I haven’t seen in a long time. I’m glad you were able to enjoy a great conversation with a friend, too, Gretchen.


  6. I’m happy to hear of your friend Mike and the unexpected meeting. What a stunning mushroom! I hope you have a lovely time with your family. We’re enjoying time with our family in town.


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