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December 15, 2010
It's Wednesday morning and I've only now lit our third Advent candle: I was still out of town on Sunday, got home late Monday and was up and out again early yesterday. Why, I barely had time to watch a video of myself being interviewed about how to slow down.

Nonetheless, I feel slow and peaceful -- of course, it's four in the morning: the world usually is pretty quiet at this hour. And so the pink gaudete candle is burning, along with two of its soberer purple sisters. The bread is rising and a pot of Irish oatmeal is bubbling on the stove: both will be ready in time for breakfast. The contralto on my Messiah CD just finished "O, Thou That Tellest." I won't miss Morning Prayer today and the head cold I acquired on the airplane ride home is less awful than it was yesterday. Things are definitely looking up.

The seminarians are almost finished with their work for this term. Cold as it is, there is a lightness in their demeanor that I also feel. For the faculty, a different story: the pre-Christmas grading grind is one of the grimmer facts of academic life, rather like the sermon marathon upon which clergy are about to embark.

For here's how it is: there are walks of life that demand giving up things in order that others may have them. Clergy don't have weekends. Teachers are grading when their students are already on break. Nurses are working on Christmas Eve, unless they traded off for someone else's Thanksgiving. Waiters, the same. Firefighters and cops. You know this going in and, though it does feel strange the first year, you get used to it. And you learn to create your festival wherever -- and whenever -- you can. God's grace is a nimble thing, and Sabbath turns out to be a much more portable feast than people think. You can do the things that make you happy any time, not just at the time appointed.

Oh, thank you! For a quiet Wednesday in Advent III. For allowing me to be born after Messiah was written, so I can listen to it anytime I wish. And after the West discovered tea, so I don't have to drink ale in the morning, like the people in the Middle Ages.


Want a laugh? Watch Jim Melchiorre interview me about slowing down for Advent....
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