Family tradition usually--if you don't count the year we all slept through our alarms--decrees rising at six on Christmas morning, but traditions change when children grow up (and stay up till one-thirty in the morning, etc.) and today we got up at 7:20. From then on, feeling more rested, we enjoyed a little normal fun: the reading of Luke 2 from the Bible, opening of stockings and gifts, and late breakfast.
The briefness of time in which life changes struck me today, as it often has before, when a routine holiday call to kinfolk in Florida transformed my family's mood from relaxed and celebratory to pensive and tearful. The health of one of my close relatives has declined so quickly that Mom bought a ticket this afternoon, packed a bag, and got Dad to drive her to the airport just an hour ago.
I don't know what will happen. All I know, amid the surprise of sadness, is that the prayers of this strong woman have meant a lot to me all my life. And that whether she recovers or goes to be with Christ, her soul is at peace with God--I believe it wholeheartedly.
So here I sit, Christmas night; though temporarily alone in this house except for God and the puppy, I feel myself surrounded by many a blessing and joy--joys long-known and comfortable, joys young and tremulous and delightful--yet here and there a very real sorrow.
Perhaps among the things the mother of Christ pondered in her heart were the ultimate reaches of both joy and sorrow meant to be carried and fulfilled by the child she cradled in her arms.
Anyway, Chris Knight broke the news to me this morning: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (not the Deathly Hollows, as MSN had accidentally posted today) has been confirmed by J.K. Rowling and her publishing company. So if you were one of the three remaining Americans who didn't know that: now you do know.
Ahhh... now for the speculations. I need much more time to process this. The word "Hallows" intrigues me, though, as it refers to things sacred. And in America--I can't answer for England--"Hallow" is generally used as a verb or adjective, not a noun, so "the... hallows" interests me grammatically as well.
My first question: What in the Harry Potter books is held sacred? The traces of religious practice associated with 'magic'--traces which range in origin from alchemy to Zoroastrianism--have been stripped out of the books, far too cleanly to suggest that Ms. Rowling had any desire to do less. No, I doubt we'll find sacred items or rituals in the seventh book. If I may venture my opinion, those things which the great characters of Harry's story do venerate are principles: hope, friendship and loyalty, compassion, trust and honor; and, as is revealed clearly to Harry at the end of book 5--amid shattered silver instruments in Dumbledore's office, and in the agony of loss--love.
Make of that what you will.
Needless to say, I'm fascinated, and like children everywhere, am hanging on J.K.R.'s words. I've noticed that if I say on this blog that I'm going to post something, it'll never happen (still haven't reviewed Ender's Game, or Clay Aiken's latest CD, or that Over the Rhine concert) so I won't make too much of a comment about having a whole list of predictions to post the day before the release of book 7, or about my intention of putting aside my introverted tendencies and attending the nearest Midnight Madness to get one of the first copies out of the boxes.
I am here.
A faithful blogger, having disappeared from the face of the blogosphere for two complete weeks, should probably at least post some kind of excuse for the absence.
That, however, constitutes far more than I can manage right now. The hour is late, and sleep I must have. But I will be back, oh yes. This little space has not been neglected out of lack of love.
The drama of being snowbound has for me included riding the WTA buses to and from work, creative cooking with canned chicken, lots of MSN Messenger and telephone conversation (most other social interaction having been circumvented by the snowplow shortage), and lots of reading. Fortunately, I've had plenty of reading material.
The Saint lent me Orthodoxy by G. K. Chesterton, whose work I have heard quoted often but never read. Nor had I ever heard what a hilarious man Chesterton was. In the introduction, for instance, he writes "...There is in everything a fair division of labor. I have written the book, and nothing on earth would induce me to read it." That made me laugh so hard that my roommate, who was upstairs, wanted to know if I was all right.
Another quote, just a few pages in, surprised me with a perspective I'd never considered. He had been talking about the logic and reasonings of minds gone mad, and said this:
"...[The insane mind] moves in a perfect but narrow circle. A small circle is quite as infinite as a large circle, but, though it is quite as infinite, it is not so large... A bullet is quite as round as the world, but it is not the world. There is such a thing as a narrow universality; there is such a thing as a small and cramped eternity."
Perhaps this spoke to me because, as someone naturally and rather desperately analytical, I can look back over my life and see times when my own mind got caught up in an ever-narrowing whirlpool of twisted logic. None stands out to me more clearly than the time I nearly lost my faith; the sense that God might not exist, or might exist only in a less truly good form than I had believed, took me nearer clinical depression than I ever hope to be again.
If I may be allowed to meander so far into philosophy, I may admit to realizing through the above experience that the narrowest of the circles of reason is that which fails to include God--closely followed by that which attempts to strip God of His mystery and confine Him to an orderly little box.
God, however, has spent my lifetime slowly and carefully broadening my circles of understanding. I'm not talking about letting go of truth or becoming "so open-minded that the brains fall out;" I'm talking about learning that God is, and that He--not to mention His gifts of faith and life and love--is more than can be comprehended by even the incredibly complex human brain.
That's enough of my soapboxing. Whenever God shows off a bit of His infinite mystery to me, all I can really do is respond--like He did when looking over all that He had made--with this: "It's good."